Monday, March 14, 2011

A Phone Call from a Non-Existent Number

At 2:49 PM, the phone rang. No one was on the other end. Hmmm... Must have been a wrong number. At 8:06 PM the phone rang again. Same number and same silence.

Since it was a California number, I didn't want the three hour difference to result in another wrong number in the middle of the night, so I called the number back. I was was greated by, "Welcome to Verizon Wireless. The number you dialed has been changed, disconnected, or is no longer in service..." HUH? How can I be getting calls from a disconnected number?

With my curiosity peaked, I tried a reverse phone number lookup. Once upon a time, you could get this for free, but I quickly realized it is one more thing that has been monetized. Now you have to pay for it. Forget that!

I could simply block the phone number. With Verizon I get five free blocks, but why should I waste one on a disconnected Verizon number. They need to fix the problem, but before I called customer service, I wanted to do more research.

Next I tried typing in the number as a Google search. BINGO! As I when through the results, it quickly became obvious that I was not alone; not by a long shot! It appeared that not just a few, not just a few hundred, but probably thousands of people had, and are experiencing the same thing. Not only that, it has been going on for years!

Now I was REALLY curious.

At 8:42 PM, I called Verizon Customer Service. I explained what I had found to Brad, the rep on the other end of the line. I told him that I knew I can simply solve my problem by blocking the number, but that thousands of people were having the same problem and I wanted to find out what was going on for them and the thousands of others who may experience the problem in the future.

After I gave him the number and he did a look up, he told me the number appeared "Temporarily Unavailable", whatever that meant. We continued to have a pleasant conversation about next steps. He offered to block the number for me and created an NRB ticket on the number that would go on to the network people to investigate it.

I thanked him, but told him that I wanted to be able to follow up on the ticket to find out exactly what was happening. He said I could call up in about a week to check on the status of the ticket, and that was where I left things with Brad.

I plan on following up in a week, but with my curiosity now in high gear I decided to spend a few bucks and use Intelius.com to see what I could find out about the number. When I visited the site, I found that it would cost me $4.99, but if no results were found, it would cost me nothing. Expecting it to cost me nothing, I continued only to find out that there were three different results for that number, but no indication as to whether any of those results were current.

Not knowing whether the results were current ticked me off. If the results were not current, I had just flushed $4.99 down the drain. Hmmm.... That would be a nice way for them to make money. If you sell old (useless) information, it's not likely you would get no results. I wonder...

Armed with names and addresses, I went back to Google. I found out about what I expected; namely that plenty of other people had spent money to find out who was calling. The first question that popped into my mind after see this was, could this be a scam to make money for the companies that have monetized the reverse phone lookup? Something just isn't right here!

I don't know what's going on and I don't know if I ever will, but I do know that I am not going to let this die here and now. I will post more when I find out more.

Oh, and in case you are interested, the number was (310) 429-5382. Do the Google search and see what you think.

89 comments:

  1. Cool article. I've had that happen before. I've also had someone spoof call me. The spoof call, was someone being vaguely threatening but speaking in a thick accent with another person in the background laughing. I'm sure it was someone I knew but still can't place the voice. I blocked it with my phone. When I block with my phone, I get the calls but my phone logs it as blocked and doesn't ring. I never call strange numbers back I google them. The number was spoofed as a local government office. I guess the point of the "prank" was to get me to call some this office and tell off some poor unsuspecting sheriffs dispatcher.

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  2. I visited this page to know about tracking a phone number, I found this page Very Good Job of acknowledgment and a marvelous source of info to chase pranksters.........Thanks Admin!
    Phone Lookup

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  3. Great article. The telephone number lookup process works well when you are trying to find the number of the person who has recently called you. You may also need to get back to the caller immediately, or you need to find out something from them urgently but do not have their phone number. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. I have been getting these same calls, always with a local area code and a few different phone numbers meant to resemble local cell phone numbers. When I immediately call the number back, I am greeted with the message that the phone number is disconnected or no longer in service. I think it is caller ID spoofing software which is readily available for any cell phone. Usually it is some sad sociopathic person who thinks they have an axe to grind, attempting (badly) to upset the person on the receiving end of the call. Prank calls have been around as long as phones, so it might be a surprise to unwitting wanna-be evil-doers to find out their time and money are wasted and only hurtful to themselves.

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    Replies
    1. It is the result of spoofing software. This is frequently done by stalkers. It is an irritation for sure.

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    2. Many, probably in the hundreds or more, receive calls from the same number only to find it is dis-connected, so why would they be stalking such a great amount of people? Stalking is a personal thing from one individual to another. This would clearly be pranks, cranks & stunts that crazy people pull who have nothing better to do since there are no good reasons why this should be happening. If there were logical explanations, we obviously wouldn't be talking about it now. They are no doubt gloating now for the fact that they are wasting our time as we are on the internet doing our so-called detective work.

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    3. Great point. The best part of a prank is witnessing someone's reaction. What's the point of this?

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    4. Good info all. My suspicions have been Validated. Not only did I purchase a Caller ID App, I purhcased the blocked call feature on my Carriers website. This pisses me off to no end. I am thinking of changing my number. Also, Sometimes I call back and someone DOES answer but they seem oblivious to the fact that they called me...If this os pranking, I'd like to get my hands on the little shits that are doing it.

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    5. I wouldn't recommend changing your number. There's a chance you will just get a number that had previously been assigned to someone else. When I moved, I got a new number and within 15 minutes having it set up, I got a call that were meant for the previous person who had it.

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  5. I'm getting these calls on a daily basis, and usually in the middle of the night. I use Vonage and my calls are coming from all over the country. No one on the other end, and calling back almost always gets the "not in service" message. Some just never answer, and once I got a busy signal. Your theory makes sense because any regular telemarketer would have a commercial or sales person on the other end when you answered.

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  6. What a long rambling post. W no information. This must be a woman

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    Replies
    1. I appreciate your reading the article, but with all due respect, it's a narrative of what happened, not a Wikipedia entry. If I had more information, I would have included it, but then it would have been ever longer and more rambling. ;-)

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    2. Chad has a high capacity for exposing his low I.Q.

      Chad, please grab your ankles and Ben Dover.

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    3. I think Chad just has a low attention span. Not his fault, it's these teenagers and their A.D.D meds. Anyways, same thing. I check my phone n see missed call. I call back and the # is disconnected I check my free intellius app and learn it is a land line in Nebraska. Phone company says it's a disconnected# . Ever wonder why we can never just shrug our shoulders and go on about our day? Lol My daughter got home from school and eating a bean burrito looks at me n says a ghost called. Wish it was that easy Mey!

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    4. Chad, this message is not rambling. I am a woman. You appear to have gender issues. Deal with them.

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    5. Chad has issues with his small penis.

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    6. Heh, somebody can't get women and is obviously very bitter about it. I find it hilarious, thanks for letting us laugh at you Chad, I needed that. Good stuff.

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    7. haha y'all are mad cuz Chad was exactly right lol...

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    8. There has to be another reason for these calls. Can a caller get some kind of access to our phone activity by placing these calls? Are these calls that we answer or call back putting some kind of unknown software on our phone just by answering? New technologies are being created everyday to take advantage of unsuspecting people.

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    9. Choad, oops, I mean Chad, I feel bad that you never have and never will really know what love is, or learn how to breath through your nose, you sexist troglodyte. Regarding the article, I would say that this is a money-making scam just as the author thought. Paranoia aside, Verizon (Vonage, etc.) probably has stock in the reverse-number lookup companies. I didn't have this problem with Tracphone at all. Do what you can with what you have and just block the numbers.

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    10. CHAD, YOU ARE AN ASSWIPE....

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    11. Chad, oh look, its a reply with no fucking point, no intelligent input, nothing at all to give to the world. Just shut the f up and go to a corner....NOW

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    12. Chad you misogynistic dick. What are you too stupid to follow Art's post? "must be a woman" how dare you. YOUR MOTHER IS A WOMAN, I bet (IF you even have one,) you beat your girlfriend. Dickhead.

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    13. WTF Chad? You replied but provided no information of value, you must be a narcissist. BTW, did you know that chad means "a piece of waste material removed from card or tape by punching"?

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    14. exactly ! if some one is looking for help on this situation they read this rambling just to find out it provides absolutely no information ... one would say why even wright this. it offers zero help on the problem .. and the theory you got going on there is totally way out there I think you've been watching to many ufo conspiracy theory shows . this is no mystery dude lol this is just something that telemarketer systems do. the computer calls random numbers with fake callback information to see what numbers actually work. it does this by calling random numbers and if some one answers its marks it as valid and your number gets put in the telemarketing registry that's it mystery solved haha what took you a crap load of time took me one whole minute lol

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    15. Some number was called a few times on bfs phone but when I call it from my phone it says welcome to Verizon wireless disconnected or no longer in service. The look on my bf face when that number called too early in the morning was drastic. Could it just b my number is blocked from that I that other numbers end?

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  7. Hi, Thanks for your great post, there are much nice information that I am sure a huge number of guys and gals don’t know. cell phone detector & cell phone detection

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  8. I keep getting calls from a disconnected number 920-261-7500, JK Architecture and Engineering, 217 N. 4th Street, and 100 E. Main Street, Suite One, Watertown, WI., 53094. Obviously there is a way to take a disconnected landline number and use it to call people nationwide, like having a free phone service, probably through VOIP. If you call this number, it is a disconnected landline phone number but it is used 12 hours a day by telemarketers to sell you time shares, which likely isn't legit.

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  9. Art,

    Thank you for posting this on the BlogSpot. Your efforts and insight are appreciated.

    This has been happening to me far too often lately so, after searching on google for an answer, I came across your blog. You can be found on the first page of my google search "receiving calls from verizon disconnected number." Congrats on that!

    What I've concluded is what other contributors have indicated, disconnect numbers are being accessed, and robo-dialing working numbers.

    I've also blocked the numbers and so far, no further calls are coming through. I will have to check my account online to see if they numbers that have been calling still show up, even though I don't know it based on my actual phone.

    Nice work!

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  10. I also have been searching for something on this issue. My calls all come from 815-206-####. Reverse phone shows Ameritech landline in Woodstock, IL. I get a different number every day. This is exactly why I kept my landline. I never answer unless I know the caller or worry about missed calls that didn't bother to leave a message.

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  11. I recently have been getting calls from this #(210) 526-6679. When I call it back, it says that message "We're sorry; your call cannot be completed as dialed." I have since added the # to my reject list so I don't hear it ring but I get the call on my call log. Also, that # will leave a message & that person will say my name & nothing else. Any ideas?

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  12. http://www.freephonetracer.com/FCPT.aspx?_act=Results&_pho=3104295382

    this is what I get when I look up the number you talk about. It is from a terrible company that has a thousand complaints with thousands of names and numbers all over the USA. LLC comm/CLEC/Peerless/Level 3 Comm/Global Crossing local Service/New Cingular Wireless/ 360 networks/.
    They have started harassing me everyday by calling my home phone and cell phone. I have been recording the dates, times and numbers of when they call. Luckily I have been able to block them on my cell but they have called me with 17 times and all with different numbers and locations.

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  13. I just recently got my first cell phone. Yes, I know, I'm a bit slow on the uptake, but my second call came from Texas, and was a non-working number. I live nowhere near Texas. The call I did return was from a local employment insurance group. The guy on the other end, who was really very nice, said that when he makes calls out the number that shows up in caller ID is the main information line, not his number.

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  14. I've been getting such harassment calls for years - all from nonworking numbers and all asking for me by name and then hanging up or just hanging up as soon as I answer. According to other online posts, such calls have been traced to telephone marketers. Too bad that the telephone companies won't act to bar such calls. Is anyone interested in starting a petition on MoveOn? I can be reached at billeisen@billeisenforschoolboard.org.

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  15. Consider this: A company/individual has a bank of computers dialing 10,000 numbers a day. 70% land lines-inconvenience, 30% cell phone. For those with unlimited calling, no problem. For the pay by call=X additional charges. Result, thousands of dollars charged daily to cell phones. Commission from phone company/companies for charges made by cell phone owner. Outlandish, maybe a derivative of this could be what is happening. Those calls are being made due to a "dollar" being made. Of over 250 received, not one has resulted in a voice at the other end.........something to think about!

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    Replies
    1. Along the same line as your post, I checked with verizon on blocking these phone numbers and they will block 5 numbers free, then charge $4.95 per line per month for blocking all such calls. $5 per month, per person who considers these calls a nuisance, and multiply by 1,000's or tens of thousands and you have quite a bit of change. Make something that is intrusive, inconvenient or unsafe then charge people to make it stop. Say it ain't so Verizon.

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  16. Received a call on my cell phone; no message left; when I called back, got the longtime familiar telco 3-tone and Ma Bell's voice "We're sorry, this number is no longer in service or has been disconnected..." Number was 949-660-8390.

    Filed complaint online with FCC, here:
    https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov

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  17. People in india make money off these calls somehow , they have numbers that they make money off per call and bounce them offanother number to hide the source can somebody here please figure out how to stop it

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  18. I repeat Do Not let them digitally voice print you. Answer and say nothing. Do Not let it go to your Voicemail.

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  19. I repeat Do Not let them digitally voice print you. Answer and say nothing. Do Not let it go to your Voicemail.

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  20. You haven't seen anything yet ! Now they call you with your own phone number showing on the caller ID. Figure that one out !

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    Replies
    1. That has happened at least 3 times to me! I'm looking at my caller ID on my cell phone and thinking, what the... Its my own number??

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  21. Could this be our govt. tapping in on all of us?

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  22. This is yet another example of how ineffective and buffoonish our Government Entities (FCC) have become – which makes us a joke to the rest of the World. You would think using an unassigned or "Not In Service" number would be considered illegal and prosecutable. But where is the effort – there is none. It appears that the Bureaucrats in charge of us only wish to harass us not protect us. I once got a particularly annoying Telemarketer call and told him that I was going to report him to the government agency in charge of the "Do Not Call List" – he laughed and then hung up. I get it now – the only way to handle this is to dump your current phones and purchase those that can block annoying calls.

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  23. We get these calls with area codes from all over the country. Tn,Or,Wa Id. I have started declining them. Some day some authority will figure out how to stop them! LOL Right!

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  24. If you're tech smart you know to just let an unfamiliar number go to voicemail. If there's something important to be said, they'll leave a message. Never had a call in the middle of the night but I could understand how that would be annoying. Otherwise, just ignore.

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    1. When you suggest, that "They'll leave a message"... & you're assuming ANY message left is "important"; you'll want to listen to it. For my TracFone account, every one of those messages I listen to cost me time and money. Back when I listened to those messages from unknown callers, I got only recorded messages saying the same thing I would have heard, had I accepted the original call: "blah, blah, blah", & sometimes, "press 1 if you want to be removed from our list". Of course, being heard on Voice mail, you can't really press 1 and get the same result.

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    2. However, if you listened live and pressed 1, you would NOT be removed from the list. All you would be doing is confirming that you actually listen to the call, which would ensure you get more of them as they sell your number as part of a verified list.

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  25. Yes! Freaky! I got a call from a Dallas Texas area code number yesterday (more specifically 214-015-3355). I always screen my calls for bill collectors. My cell only rang about three or four times which I found to be odd. I did what I normally do when I don't recognize a number before calling back and reverse phone look up-ed through white pages and the number WAS NOT EVEN IN EXSISTANCE! I will go ahead and take a wild guess that someone illegally jail broke a cell phone for some scam but the line wasn't live long because when I called back I got that message that said something like "message RF 1-" blah blah blah. Ugg!

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  26. My boyfriend been acting strange so he hands me his phone and said look,,, there's nothing on it yet I find blocked numbers that have called him all day n when I called those numbers they say not working numbers,, he just left for work n I get 337-516-0453 calling me,, when I called it back it said not working# switch from 14 0-93

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  27. My boyfriend has been getting calls from these #'s. Sometimes up to 3 mins long. He has swears to me he has no idea who it is. Either it's some kind of porn line or it's a scam. Backpage tells their girls to change their phone # everyday. My boyfriend was on Backpage when we broke up for a few months. For all you women out there ...Back p age is where men go to look for hookers and women who give it up for money or for free. If your worried check his history on his phone. If Backpage is on it...he's doing you wrong and that's why your getting the calls .

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  28. And most of Backpage are Hiv positive or in trouble with the law.That's why they are looking at that site . If someone you love is going on that site you better wear protection the next time you are with them and expect a cop to come knocking on your door.

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  29. And most of Backpage are Hiv positive or in trouble with the law.That's why they are looking at that site . If someone you love is going on that site you better wear protection the next time you are with them and expect a cop to come knocking on your door.

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  30. Once they get your # your screwed cause they call from different #'s every time.

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  31. Once they get your # your screwed cause they call from different #'s every time.

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  32. So, today at 10:30 am. I recieved a call from a number in my same city and state. i chose not to answer it not knowing it. 12 minutes later i attempted to call it. (the number has been changed or d/c).. Then I google searched the number and located an address 15 minutes away. Im half tempted to go to the address and see if the number is correct to the home owner. I do get prank calls from my brother a few times out of the year though. He changes his number to make it seem like another family member is calling me. does the same to them. calls eachother none stop and we get pissed at one another. hes had friends call and pose to be cable companies, video stores, government agencies ect.... This was not him because hes relentless with his pranks.. Basically i have a d/c number who had called me with the address of the (land line) OBVIOUSLY. seems like someone has a list of older deactivated numbers that will probably never be put back into service.. Now they are blocking their number with call forwarded to attempt to SCAM the one they are calling.. I didnt answer it though. so who knows..

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  33. I get these calls from many different numbers all the time. It's a drag. When I call back it's disconnected.

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  34. I get these calls from many different numbers all the time. It's a drag. When I call back it's disconnected.

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  35. Recently around 11 o'clock every night my house gets a call that rings once with no one there and during the period in which that call is being made and shortly after the fact the internet and wifi are down.... However my circumstance it a bit tricky because there is never a number shown it always only says "Incoming call" on the caller ID. If no one answers then after one ring the caller has hung up, but if someone does there is no one there.

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  36. This is a job for the FCC-Enforcement Advisory under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act....FCC is suppose to be the ones to stop stuff like this as well as radio transmissions or anything to do with frequency, they are here to make sure it's run within the rules or the company would get a big fine.The FCC aren't what they used to be or just don't care anymore.

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  37. I appreciate your curiosity as I too am both annoyed and curious. I am now wondering myself if these phone numbers have something to do with the apps that spoof your caller ID. I don't know if anyone has commented yet on this as I have not read any of the comments following your post; but I am aware of several apps that promise you "throw away" numbers instead of displaying your own phone number. This is different than some apps that allow you to choose the phone number displayed on your caller ID, in the way that it has pre-determined "throw-away" numbers ready for your use when calling out.

    I have not tried to call myself in order to test this theory, but it is a possibility. Just thought I would add my 2 cents.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment. While these apps are certainly annoying, I don't think what I am writing about is app related. There appear to be thousands of people getting calls from the same number and no one is on the other end. If they were app related, there wouldn't be so many and some of them would have pranksters on the other end. They appear to be computer generated.

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  38. It's a phishing program. They've set up a program that makes another phone number show up on caller ID's instead of their real phone number. It's just a computer program that calls phone numbers that they've collected to see if the number is good.
    The goal for them is to get real, usable phone numbers that go to normal people so they can sell the numbers to telemarketers. The worst thing that you can do is answer the phone or try to call them, that shows them that the number is good and your problem will only get worse.

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  39. Thank you Anonymous 11/16/15 at 2:49PM. That sounds like the most logical explanation I've heard yet. The answer is almost always includes money and you've shown me the money connection.

    I called my phone company today to try and find out what is going on and reached the fraud division in East Asia. So I asked the fellow how the weather was there on the other side of the world and he said it was sunny. He tried to help, but could only offer two suggestions which included call blocking of each number up to a total of 20. I told him that given the current sophistication of the callers today, a thousand probably wouldn't be enough to stop the problem.

    So I'm thinking about purchasing a blocking device, which if I were a paranoid, I would probably conclude that the manufacturers were making the calls themselves in order to create a market for their device. But perhaps I will try it for some temporary relief from harassment and wait for the next level of sophistication to bypass my blocking device and resume harassing me.

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  40. Just got one of those calls
    Alabama
    205-863-9589 it is a cell
    I did not answer initially but when I returned the call it was disconnected .

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  41. I get these calls a few times a week from all over the country. I block them, but new ones appear. They are typically followed by companies telling me that my car warranty has expired. When you ask to opt out of their marketing they hang up on you.

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  42. The first one I got was a foreign woman trying to sell me something. Was my local area code and my phone is for business so I have to answer or possibly miss a sale. Then for several days I got several more from the same number and some from a different number same area cod and prefix. You can reverse lookup free on whitepages.com- it doesn't always give you the name but will tell you where the number originates usually. These were all disconnected numbers. Verizon has no interest in stopping them because they are making money on every call that connects. Hope it backfires on them someday

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  43. It is usually a debt collection agency trying to get you to answer by using Spooftel with a local number so you think it may be someone you know. They try to get you to verify you are who they are looking for so they can harass you for money. Just tell them you just got this new number and give a fake name. That may slow them down awhile as they try to find your new number . lol

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  44. Same happening to me. I agree w/ "AnonymousNovember 16, 2015 at 2:49 PM" post. The actions I'll take
    1. register number on the National Do Not Call registry:
    https://www.donotcall.gov/register/Reg.aspx
    Thus rendering the sale of my number to telemarketers worthless.

    2. Report any such calls or calls from telemarketers to the FCC who will now have a legal motive for tracking such calls and prosecuting the offenders.

    I hope everyone experiencing such problems does the same. In numbers we have great power.

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  45. fcc link to file complaint on phone calls

    https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/requests/new?ticket_form_id=39744

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  46. I received multiple calls starting at 4am this morning from a number I knew was familiar to me . I done the reverse look up and it in fact was a landline number that belonged to my fiancee that died in an auto accident in 2014 but we had disconnected that number in 2011/2012. Çan u imagine how I felt at 4am when his number showed up on my caller ID? Heart breaking to me all over again!!! As for the sick person responsible for this twisted act Of torment , i pray the Lord spares your demonic soul and disconnects your privilages forever!!! You will be found and prosecuted for this sick game!

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  47. You are right those people creating those calls to make money, well they want get a penny from me, because I don't give a shit, if I don't know the number my phone blocks it.

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  48. Its happening to me. i'm from california, the number calling me is in bend, OR. ughh!!

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  49. I'm having the same problem with the message that the number has been disconnected or no longer in service when I try to call. Mine, however, are texts with my name in them with an address (2927 Tecumseh Street). My texts have come from two different numbers (470) 243-2533 and (224)249-4058.

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  50. These started happening to me randomly. Since adding my number to the "do not call" list, the calls have increased in frequency.

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  51. 9565037388
    Number called me i called back and its disconnected...hiw can that be?

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  52. i did answer one of these calls and was sexually harassed by the caller when i requested he take the number off his list.

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  53. I just got a call from a non-existent area code? How can that be? No way to identify either caller or its geographic origination. Fortunately, I now have my phone permanently set to "do not disturb" so it does not even ring unless the number is in my contact list. Sad state of telecommunication affairs.

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  54. Found out another possibility, as I've been dealing with this too.
    Apparently when people use number forwarding or porting it causes service provider conflicts and will give you this message.
    Basically someone calls you from something like google voice or other number services and if they forward or port this number to their cell phone and you call it back, you get this message....the number you are calling is not the number associated with that phone, conflicts and gives you error message.
    Also can happen with pre pay phones, if they run out of min, it's basically a disconnected number till they pay again

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  55. I have been getting these calls on my MagicJack line. There is a plug-in you can buy (cheap) called Magic Feaures which, among other things, allows you to block an infinite number of callers.

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  56. Great article post! The iPhone is one of the most advanced gadgets of our time that has been receiving much attention since it was introduced. For sell and buy new or old phones, you have to be use internet power. For more see here.

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  57. Blocking the number does work. you block it they call you from another not in service number

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  58. Blocking the number does work. you block it they call you from another not in service number

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  59. Thank you Art. It's kind of comforting to know that I'm not the only one who is annoyed by these calls.

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  60. Pretty simple to deal with - seems to me. If someone calls you and you have caller-id, the new-guy caller will just show up as a phone #! If anyone who is not in your caller-id data file calls you, you should expect that you don't know them. Their responsibility - to get a callback, would be to simply leave a voicemail. None of these 'not-in-service' pests will leave a voicemail. Solution: delete! If the caller really is legit - they will call back and leave a message the next time!

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  61. this is Google, they call me all the time wanting me to advertise with them

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  62. this is Google, they call me all the time wanting me to advertise with them

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