Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Hack Your Cell: Identify Regular Wrong Number Callers

Jim and I have not always had great luck with phone numbers. Our last home number was one digit off of a salon called Hard Bodies. When people called and asked if we were Hard Bodies, we collapsed into laughter until they hung up. Somehow it never ceased to be funny.

Now our home phone number echoes that of a health insurance provider. If insurance customers dial 1 (800) our number they can order prescriptions. If they dial our local area code- which also starts with an 8- they get the Joneses. We periodically get calls from people trying to renew their mail order prescriptions. If we're home, we give them the real number, but if we're not- people sometimes leave all their information on our answering machine. Once when we were on vacation, one person left a series of increasingly frantic messages as he was running out of a critical medication. We called the person back to explain, but seemed to freak him out without convincing him to call the insurer again. Finally, we called the insurance company and provided all the information left on our answering machine. It took a while to get through the phone tree without an account number and then explain everything, but the insurance company was eventually convinced to call the person and assist.

Now, our cell phones are getting a lot of wrong number dialers. Somehow, the people with numbers near ours have friends who frequently & consistently dial the wrong number. I hate struggling to answer the phone when it's a wrong number.

So we've created a contact named Wrong Number. Any wrong number dialers are added to the contact which can be set to silent. It saves us cell phone minutes and the annoyance of searching for the phone.

Happy 2008!

(c) Baby Toolkit, 2008

20 comments:

Christy said...

Geez. What a great idea!

Anonymous said...

hard bodies, huh?...hmm...trying to think of a good joke...nope, there are none! it is just too funny all on its own! :)

thanks for the good tip!
~karen

Sarah said...

This is a great idea. My husband thinks he must have a number that is similar to a drug dealer! He gets calls and text messages saying things like "meet me at the corner in 10" etc.

PastaQueen said...

Somebody left a somewhat racy message on my voicemail the other week. Sounded like they were calling from a bar and were soliciting some guy for a booty call. I once had to get a cell number changed because I got all these weird hang-up calls. I always wondered if the number used to belong to a drug dealer or an escort or something. Glad to see you've found a clever solution!

indywriter said...

I wish we could do this on our home phone. We still get calls for the previous owner of our phone number (and we've had it for for over five and a half years!). And it seems he had some trouble remembering to pay his bills. Try convincing a bill collector that they really do have the wrong number.

adrienne said...

Indywriter:

Good news! You have recourse through the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Record the date and time of the call. Get the name of the representative, their collection agency, a mailing address, and return phone number. Report them to your state's Attorney General's office (Indiana happens to be very aggressive about harassing phone calls). You can also report them to the Federal Trade Commission via online form.

In Indiana it's legal to record the call without notifying them (we're a one party notification state). Record the calls if you want and provide the tapes to the state and Federal regulatory agencies.

You'll be off their call lists in no time flat.

Liz Remus said...

Good idea! So simple!

Anonymous said...

actually all you usually have to do is get the info from the bill collector and thentell them your are sending them a certified letter requesting they quit calling you. If they call after that then you can get your lawyer according to FCRA .. Technically you should send the letter .. usually threatening that will be enough for the calls to end .. This applies whether the call is for you or someone else. If it is for you then they have to snail mail it .

Reggie said...

Great idea.

David said...

to indywriter, I used to have a caller ID device that could "block" phone numbers. I used to get phone calls from a fax machine and it was getting a bit annoying, so I blocked the number. What it would do was answer the phone then immediately hang it up.

Alfonso Bedoya said...

I have the same problem because my cell number is xxx-877-nnnn, so people in area code xxx who dial 877-nnn-nzzz (which I believe is a large chain store's credit department) without dialing 1 first get my cell.

Usually I just ignore the call so it goes to voice mail, which says they've reached xxx-877-nnnn, and they figure it out. Sometimes they're persistent (usually during important meetings). For that, my Treo phone has the option "Ignore with Text", so I've created a text message template that says "Dial 1 before 877" that I can send with a few under-the-table clicks. Sprint has a text-to-voice service that will convert a text message sent to a land line to a voice call, and getting a robot voice saying "Dial 1" apparently convinces even the most obtuse caller.

snow-boy5 said...

You could also just use the FREE service youmail.com and set anon callers to get a message that makes them think the number has been disconnected. You can also set the option to not allow them to leave a voice mail.

Anonymous said...

One suggestion I can offer is check the area code. Lots of phones will area code match to the location of the cell tower. It seems to me that people are not putting in the area code of their friends phones in their contact lists. What happens is they pick up the phone and dial 555-1212 when they are in lets say Vegas for vacation and get you in area code 702 when what they really meant to dial was 212-555-1212 to call their friend in New York.

Stephen said...

That's a good idea. I'm going to see if I can do that with the stupid data calls I get all day from the University of Phoenix. :(

Anonymous said...

I did this for my wife side of the family and bill collectors

Anonymous said...

"I did this for my wife side of the family and bill collectors"-

LOL...Too Funny...I will do the same !

unlistednumberlookup.com said...

I've been doing this for years.

I love it how my Sony Ericsson phone has the option to forward calls of a certain group to voicemail.

When I go to bed, I can forward everyone to voicemail but family members (in case of emergency)!

Anonymous said...

And it seems he had some trouble remembering to pay his bills. Try convincing a bill collector that they really do have the wrong number.

I can do you one better - I had a deadbeat who continued to give out my number as his for two years after I got it. I was finally alerted to this when someone he wrote bad checks to called looking for him. I gave up my landline that moment. Not had too much of a problem with obnoxious cell calls (I've had my number for 9 years, so that's probably why), but it's nice to know this little trick.

Marinda Martin said...

Really cool of you to intervene with the insurance company for the poor fellow who was running out of meds.

Jim said...

The next step, after assigning the bad numbers to "Wrong Number", is to give "Wrong Number" their own ring tone - perhaps silence?

I've given "no ring tone" to those calls that come across as "unavailable". If it is important, they can leave a message.