Your neighbor must be calling, so of course you'll answer

We all get scam calls. Lately, I’ve been getting a call from a number in my area code and prefix. Obviously this must be a neighbor, because, as we all know, phone numbers ###-###-??? must all be from the same general location!

I usually just forget it and it becomes a “missed call” with no message left. This time, I just decided to answer and see which scam it was. ( Usually I just get a robo-ad and there is no one to whom I can say “please put me on your do not call list” so I don’t want to waste my time. ) The man who answered asked me if I had called him? I was befuddled at first. I said I didn’t call him. He said that a call came through from my number a few minutes ago. Then I realized what had happened. I said that I didn’t call him. Then I chuckled and said that I wasn’t going to call him and he was free to block my number. We hung up amicably.

I realized that the scam was to get phone numbers similar to each other and call one number pretending to be a similar number, so that the callee thinks “Oh, it must be a neighbor, so I should answer”. I had never heard of that technique before.

In this day when people transfer their cell phone numbers from carrier to carrier, and the number you got when you were in Miami is still the number you use even though you live in Seattle, it is a wonder that this technique is still thought to be valuable. I only picked up because I was curious about which scam I was going to hear.

I’ve found it quite easy to not answer any number that isn’t already in my contacts list.

Yes, yes, you’re very smart.

But the point was, WHY do they think that’s going to be effective? Maybe if it were 1970 and I was living on the farm, yeah, sure, I would have answered. But even back then, I wouldn’t have bought whatever it was they were selling.

Plus, if I ever get curious and answer my “neighbor’s” call, there’s usually no one there. I just can’t see how scam calls can be profitable if they never say anything!

Funny thing is around here, there was one prefix for a million years until about the early 2000s when, I guess, the prefix ran out of numbers so they added a second prefix, which is the prefix I got with my line in 2005.

But also around then people started getting cell phones and abandoning their old-prefix lines, and not getting new phones with this new prefix, so my prefix is actually pretty rare.

I get a ton of calls from that secondary prefix and since my actual neighbors have lived here a very long time, they have the primary prefix, so it was pretty clear right off the bat that any number calling from that secondary prefix was spam.

I get scam calls from ‘neighbors’ as well as from “Out-of-Service” numbers and even from my own number.

It’s call spoofing. A human is not calling on the other line, except in the OP’s case.

One of the benefits of having a non-native area code: any call from my old area code or nearby is spam. Any unrecognized call from the area code I live in is likely legitimate.

First you had to ignore all calls from out of state (obvious spammers)
Now you have to ignore all calls that match your first 6 digits (obvious spoofers)
When I am at work, I google any number that calls me, and if the first hit is one of those “who called me” websites then I block it.

I used to always ignore those calls, then discovered that they sometimes left me a VM. Well, if someone calls & leaves a VM, maybe they really do want to talk to me. Maybe it’s the kid, with a dead phone, calling from someone else’s phone (wouldn’t be the first time.) Now I need to listen to a VM, it could be a legit call. At the very least I need to go into VM to delete the message. Now I answer the call & immediately hang up. If they call back then I assume it’s a legit call & will answer it the second time but almost 100% of the time by answering & hanging up I at least save myself the hassle of cleaning out my VM.

There may be phone apps that can block a pattern of numbers, but I haven’t found a good one. The ones I’ve tried have to be on constantly in your notifications, which I found more annoying than the actual calls.

In recent months, despite having Nomorobo, many of the nuisance calls end up on my landline’s voice mail after the phone continues to ring, rather than being “caught” by Nomorobo after a single ring, and (being a freelancer and having ongoing medical/dental issues) I need to listen to every single voice mail to ensure there aren’t any “real” ones
. This week I received a half dozen calls from ME (my full name or full phone number showing on my caller-ID).
I have never thought of myself as being a death penalty advocate, but …

Because it has proven to be effective. Cold calling/spoofing/scamming is all a game of numbers, and anything that improves your chance of an interaction improves your bottom line. If 1 in 20 people pick up because they think they might recognize the number or they think it might be someone they know then that’s 5% more people that you can start reading your script to.

I’m actually more likely to answer a dissimilar number. I’m bad about saving numbers, but absolutely nobody unsaved from my phone’s area code calls me

And the OPs experience proves this- the guy , thinking he may have missed an important call, actually called the OPs number back

That was you? I did that just a few days ago out of curiosity about who might answer since I just usually send unexpected calls from unknown numbers directly to my full and not accepting any more messages voicemail

The number of marketing calls I receive on my cell has increased markedly in the last few years. Fortunately, I’m not aware of anyone I know who has a phone number with the same cell prefix I have, so they’re easily identifiable.

On the other hand, my wife and I have made it sort of a game to predict what the marketing call will involve. I’m way ahead by guessing “medical braces.” She was ahead for awhile by guessing “medicare supplement insurance.” but that has petered out. We both look forward to the “Windows security” calls, since they are the most fun to play with. I sometimes keep them on the phone for 10-15 minutes, pretending to follow elaborate instructions for remote access, and then begging them for help when I can’t seem to make it work. Funny thing…they never say good-bye before they hang up.

Everybody should have a hobby.

I enjoy calling random local numbers and pretend to be a telemarketer.

I take it you have a CostCo-sized bucket of salve to soothe your blistered ear.

Nomorobo works by keeping a log of spam calls and deducing which numbers call more than normal, so if you are unlucky and one of the first called it will go more than one ring.
We have an answering machine as first defense, and 95% of these hang up after the answering machine picks up. Very few leave a message (besides political calls.)

So very few get through. Pity. I haven’t been able to say nasty things about some Indian scumbag’s mother for months now.

They didnt run out of numbers, that is a total bogus bullshit lie they keep telling.
There are about 300 area codes in the uSA. Each area code can contain at least 9,000,000 numbers (I take out a million because of 555 and such). There are 300,000,000 million Americans. There are 2,700,000,000 numbers in 300 area codes. Allowing each American 9 numbers, even 1 yo babies.

What it is, the cell companies are lazy and greedy. They’d prefer getting large blocks assigned to them, even if they only use a few numbers. They also LOOOOOOVE burner phones.

When they tried to split the 408 area code, I had the Ccil grand Jury challenge them, and they backed down so fast you could smell the rubber burning. But later, they did it.

Fight every area code split. They often back down.

It works on old people who remember when a phone number meant something – they’ll pick up the phone. Might be important!
A subset of those people have experienced enough cognitive decline that they’ll fall for the actual scam. Sorry to be blunt.

It’s amazing how many parents of friends of mine have been hit by this kind of stuff.