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ChocolateReigns's avatar

I just got a really strange phone call. Was it an attempt at something illegal? (more details inside)

Asked by ChocolateReigns (5619points) November 8th, 2010

This is what they said:
“Hi, I’m sorry to bother you. I’m calling long distance, trying to get in touch with your neighbor, Mary Smith [different from who they were actually looking for]. Do you know her?”
I didn’t recognize the name, so I said we didn’t know any of our neighbors.
They obviously were discouraged, so I asked if they had any other information, that might at least tell me which house they were interested in. She gave a house number that I recognized as being one or 2 houses down the road. But I couldn’t help her.

But I just thought…What if it had been fake? Couldn’t they have been able to use information for something not exactly right? Is this a known scam?

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11 Answers

CyanoticWasp's avatar

If they were calling from upstairs in your own house then you should start to panic now.

But I was about to make one of these calls once, too. I knew my friend was supposed to be expecting my call, and we were about 1000 miles apart. And he wasn’t answering repeated calls. So I looked up one of his neighbors using an Internet search engine and prepared to call them instead, to see if they knew if my friend was home or not home, injured, whatever.

Before I made the call to the neighbor, he called me himself and we made our plans.

But with reverse directories being what they are, and people’s inventiveness, I wouldn’t be too surprised at receiving such a call. But I also wouldn’t give out a lot of information to a stranger, either.

picante's avatar

You were smart to disavow any knowledge. Who knows the real intent—I do think bill collectors stoop to similar tactics in trying to reach people.

marinelife's avatar

That is a strange one. I think it could range from something as simple as what @CyanoticWasp is suggesting to some kind of scam. I don’t think I would give out any info on the neighbor. I might take down a number and pass it on to the neighbor.

Strauss's avatar

I second @marinelife. I would offer to take down a number and ask my neighbor to call.

ChocolateReigns's avatar

I just googled the number, and got this. Sounds kind of suspicious. Apparently they ask for SS#s and call people using this script, phishing for info, all the time. Thank goodness I couldn’t give them anything.

flutherother's avatar

I called someone long distance once to be told they had just left to go next door. I said I would call back later. They said no, call them now. I said but I will just get you again. They said no, not if you call them on their own number. I turned out I had mixed up the last two digits of the number which by chance gave me the number of the neighbour. Talk about confusion!

augustlan's avatar

Collection agencies definitely use this tactic. I suppose it’s meant to obtain up-to-date contact info on the debtor, or perhaps embarrass them by contacting co-workers, neighbors, and family members.

ChocolateReigns's avatar

@augustlan Is that really legal? It can’t be.

augustlan's avatar

@ChocolateReigns I’m not sure about the legality of it, but it’s definitely unethical.

silvermoon's avatar

We get calls like this alot at home mainly because we are the only ones in our family with our number listed in the phone book. Normally calls from debt collecting companies looking for our family members that we don’t even have contacts for. If they wern’t satisfied that we didn’t have the contacts or know who they wanted then they start to question our own identity. As soon as we are questioned about our own identity or how we are related to the person their looking for that’s about when we cut off the call without telling them because they obviously wern’t listening to us when we said we have no contact or we don’t know them. We also get the occasional mail also from companies who just assume that everyone with our last name lives at our house.

john65pennington's avatar

Have you ever heard of skip-tracing? these are headhunters looking for people that have accounts out for collection. they use a Blue Book and call all the numbers surrounding the person they are looking for. this is where they probably got your phone number and street address.

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