How Did They Do This?

TomTerrific

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
1,408
Wayland, MA
I’m traveling right now, otherwise I’d ask some smart guy at my home organization, but I just had a vaguely disturbing experience and I’m trying to figure out how disturbed, or not, I should be

In brief, I just received a phone call from a number consisting of the 508 area code (my home area code, but that may just be a coincidence) followed by my wife’s private work number (she has a public work number as well which gets intercepted by other people) which is a 617 number.

If it hadn’t shown New Bedford as the location I would have picked up. I should note I keep a really low digital profile—no fbook, no linked-in, no nothing. So how did they do this? Is this just AT&T selling my info to all comers? Or what?
 

DrewDawg

Dorito Dink
SoSH Member
Dec 16, 2010
36,805
My mom gets one that shows it coming from her own phone number.

It's called spoofing, and technically, it's against the law: https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/spoofing-and-caller-id but it's very hard to figure out who is actually doing it. And it's not necessarily AT&T. That info might be available on credit reports and the like.

What are the caller ID rules for telemarketers?
FCC rules specifically require that a telemarketer:

  • Transmit or display its telephone number or the telephone number on whose behalf the call is being made, and, if possible, its name or the name of the company for which it is selling products or services.
  • Display a telephone number you can call during regular business hours to ask to no longer be called. This rule applies even to companies that already have an established business relationship with you.
 

NortheasternPJ

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 16, 2004
13,279
My mom gets one that shows it coming from her own phone number.

It's called spoofing, and technically, it's against the law: https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/spoofing-and-caller-id but it's very hard to figure out who is actually doing it. And it's not necessarily AT&T. That info might be available on credit reports and the like.
This. A lot of business development auto dialers allow them to check a box that chooses a local number for anyone on the list to get them to pick up. Funny thing is it tends to piss off people even more if you get them live so it’s counter productive.
 

TomTerrific

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
1,408
Wayland, MA
I understand the general spoofing thing, and that they are exploiting weaknesses in Signalling System 7.

What disturbs me is that they know to spoof me using a number that’s familiar to me, my wife’s private work number, combined with an area code that’s familiar to me.

The area code thing I get. But how were they able to gather the necessary data to know that was a good way to spoof me? The easiest way I can think of is if AT&T sells them my call logs (or equivalently my wife’s call logs). But that would be a massive privacy breach and I am doubtful AT&T does that. So what are the other ways they can connect the dots?

EDIT: OK, I see the credit reports speculation, and that is something that hadn’t occurred to me. Hmmm
 

InsideTheParker

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
25,841
Pioneer Valley
An acquaintance whom I haven't seen for years got a phone call from my home phone number, apparently. So she picked up, and soon realized it was a used-car salesman or something like that. If I hadn't run into her at Whole Foods I probably would never known about it. So, it's not the same thing that happened to you, but somehow this scammer was able to locate a number with my name attached that the person would recognize, even though I must never or nearly never have called her. I do call a mutual friend, whom she also calls. Could that have been the link? I never answer the phone at all unless I know who's calling, but with this scam they do get you to pick up.
 

uncannymanny

Well-Known Member
Gold Supporter
SoSH Member
Jan 12, 2007
6,396
Boston --> NYC --> LA --> NYC
I used to get a LOT of spoof calls (recovering from debt, higher than average income is why I’m a target I imagine). $30/yr on the Robokiller app is some of the best pound for pound dollars I’ve spent.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

Homeland Security
SoSH Member
Dec 4, 2005
17,755
Portsmouth, NH
I get a ton of these and tried robokiller. I found it blocked out basically anything unknown to my phone book so I had to drop it for work. Now I’m back to hitting ignore.
 

uncannymanny

Well-Known Member
Gold Supporter
SoSH Member
Jan 12, 2007
6,396
Boston --> NYC --> LA --> NYC
I have not had that issue. You can also set any number to ring through without adding to your contacts.

I got really tired of checking my ringing phone in meetings, in the car, etc and seeing yet another number calling with my same area code and exchange (I don’t even live in that state anymore).

No one who I need to talk to immediately isn’t in my contacts anyway but I know you deal with a lot of vendors and what not.

I also quite enjoyed making my own answer bot.
 

milfordsoxfan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 26, 2006
260
Connecticut
It's at the point where people call me and tell me they received a call from my number, and I explain spoofed calls to them.

I answer every spoofed call now, because I am frequently bored at work. If it is the thing about the extended car warranty, I tell them I drive a 1957 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and that I am very interested in extending my warranty. The responses are entertaining. "That model isn't eligible? Why not?"

If it is something else (free Hilton stay, something about my Dell computer, whatever), I opt to speak to a person, and then ask if I can put them on hold because "someone walked into my office, but I'm very interested in your offer." I found this recording of one hour of Cisco hold music. I put the phone next to the computer speaker, and see how long they hold on for. So far the record is between 3-4 minutes.

Anecdotally, I think I'm receiving fewer of these calls these days. Might just be in my head, but I'd like to think it is because I'm intentionally wasting these assholes' time.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

Homeland Security
SoSH Member
Dec 4, 2005
17,755
Portsmouth, NH
I have not had that issue. You can also set any number to ring through without adding to your contacts.

I got really tired of checking my ringing phone in meetings, in the car, etc and seeing yet another number calling with my same area code and exchange (I don’t even live in that state anymore).

No one who I need to talk to immediately isn’t in my contacts anyway but I know you deal with a lot of vendors and what not.

I also quite enjoyed making my own answer bot.
Yeah I know you can, problem is I have to cold call accounts, so I don’t always know what number to ‘allow’. I had at least one I lost an opportunity on because of it and when I followed up they basically said ‘I tried calling you but I got X for message so I called the other company’. I can add the account number but I can’t exactly ask everyone to give me their personal cell. It’s definitely annoying as shit and yes, it was fun making the answer bot, but it’s not a positive ROI for me currently.