General Question

ETpro's avatar

Who keeps calling me? Nobody is on the other end of the line. See details.

Asked by ETpro (34584points) January 7th, 2014

My 800 line is getting calls at all hours. As always when I am awake (before the stupid phone rings) and can answer it before voicemail picks it up, there is nobody there. No message is ever left when voicemail gets it.

The phone rang at 4:14 AM yesterday morning. Caller ID showed the call was from Unknown at 202–681—####. When I call it, I get Google voicemail and messages I leave go unreturned. It rang this morning at 7:49 AM. I was expecting a call from the plumber, but the ID showed Unknown at 202–556—####. I answered, but again nobody was on the other end. It doesn’t sound like anyone even hangs up. The line is just dead. Not even a dial tone. Calling it goes immediately to Google Voice voicemail, and nobody calls back. At 2:23 AM 2 days ago, it was 440–879-2594. Calling that number today, it reports as not in service. What the heck is going on. It’s daily now, several times a day. I’ve turned the ring tone off till I can figure out how to stop it.

Is anyone else having this sort of phone irritation? Anyone know why it’s happening? Is there a technology solution that will disconnect the 800 line from the phone after hours, letting any calls go straight to Verizon voicemail? I hate to keep the ringer turned off because it’s all too easy to miss important business calls during the day.

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22 Answers

KNOWITALL's avatar

I have gotten a ton this week at work. Dead silence. Hmmm maybe it’s our 800 line too?

dxs's avatar

Does it have to do with wire-tapping? 202 is the DC area code.

ibstubro's avatar

I know that there are auto phone dialers whose soul function is to determine active lines and the time of their activity. Plain-speak, they simply want to know what time of day a phone is answered by a person in order to re-sell that information at a high price.

I don’t know why they would dial an 800 number, but if a number is answered by a person, surely there’s a product that can be marketed to them.

Is there a Flying Leap Fish award for the best guesser??

Kardamom's avatar

We’ve been having that problem too. Not as much now, as several weeks ago. The friend that I housesit for has the problem too.

We are “supposedly” on the do not call list, and my Mom suspects that when someone calls, even though we are on that list, the phone sort of disconnects them on the other end. Your phone rings, but when you pick it up, there is no real connection between you and the caller.

I have no idea how to make it stop. My friend just leaves his machine on all the time, when these mystery callers ring, they can’t leave a message. I think that when you try to call their numbers back, the phone acts as if there was no real connection either and that’s why you don’t get a real person on the other end.

Maybe one of our members works for the phone company and could give us some better answers. It is really annoying.

Buttonstc's avatar

Robo calls. Except they’re not content to leave a recorder voicemail message. They want to be able to harangue a live person.

But since its after hours, none of their live operators are available to take the call, so it just hangs up.

This used to happen to me all the time when I first got my current number years ago and this is what a phone supervisor explained to me.

But after several years of only screening my calls and never picking up unless its someone I know or someone leaving me a message, I think their system just gave eventually up since no live person EVER answered for years.

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Judi's avatar

I had a whole weekend once where I was somehow getting all the calls for the California Wine Club. (You wouldn’t believe how many calls they get!) I don’t know if it was because of my 800 number or if someone just went home for the weekend and accidentally forwarded all their calls to my number. I don’t have an answer for you but I feel your pain.

ETpro's avatar

@KNOWITALL If I figure out what’s up, I will let you know.

@dxs Nah. There have been a growing string of them over the last several weeks and the area codes are here and there. No clear pattern to it.

@ibstubro Now that makes a great deal of sense. That’s quite likely what’s up. After posing this, I got a call back from one of the 202 numbers that has called. They guy was quite apologetic and said that some other people had complained as well. He didn’t make the calls, but he suspects Google Voice in the DC area got hacked. His phone number got posted online with a bunch more.

@Kardamom Glad it’s slacking off for you. There is no “Do Not Call” list for business phones, though.

@Buttonstc These aren’t robocalls in the traditional sense, because if I answer, there is nobody there, and then the line goes dead.

@glacial Cat got His tongue?

@Coloma Could be. But shouldn’t I hear this.

@josie They don’t know who they are dealing with. Bwa ha ha ha ha!

@ragingloli Lucky. I should live so long as to get a caller like that.

@Judi Argh! So yeah, it could be worse.

Buttonstc's avatar


You’re right. They aren’t the traditional robocalls which typically deliver a pre recorded message. People just hang up on those.

That’s why some of them have taken to hiring live people to take over any calls answered by a person. However, some only do that during traditional hours.

At least that’s what the telephone guy explained to me. And his suggestion to me to screen all my calls eventually worked because their systems don’t waste time calling numbers which are never answered live.

But, I don’t know how practical that would be for you.

ETpro's avatar

@Buttonstc We seem to have a failure to communicate here. I am familiar with the kind of robocall you are thinking of, but this is something entirely different. Answer, say Hello, whatever. Wait as long as you have patience for after that. There is nobody there, ever! Within about 10 seconds it drops to a dead line.

Smitha's avatar

You can register your number with the National Do Not Call Registry and can file a complaint with the FTC or may be block them with Google Voice. The new smartphones have a “send directly to voicemail” feature which allows certain callers from your contact list to be sent directly to voicemail. Setting up a Youmail account also prevents the caller from leaving any voicemail or incoming message.

downtide's avatar

I work in a call centre and I know exactly what’s happening here. Outbound call-handlers have their calls made automatically by computer. The ratio of “no-answers” to live calls is something like 15:1 and rather than have the call-handlers waste time listening to phones ring and answerphone messages, the system dials more numbers than there are staff to field the calls. No voicemail messages are left because a call-handler cannot sell to an answering-machine; it’s a waste of resources. They are connected only to live lines. However on occasion this means that when you pick up the phone there is no call-handler currently available to speak to you, so you get a dead line.

Buttonstc's avatar


Yes, that’s precisely what that phone supervisor explained to me. Robocalls which transfer to a live operator rather than seliver a pre-recorded message.

You just expressed it better and more concisely than I did :)


What downtide just wrote is EXACTLY what I was trying to explain to you. and the only “cure” for it (as the telephone guy told me) is to never give them a live person (you) on the line.

But that may not be a practical solution in your situation.

ETpro's avatar

@downtide and @Buttonstc. That might explain the calls during business hours, but at 2:23 AM and 4:14 AM EST? I’m pretty sure those weren’t robodialers for telemarketing calls.

Buttonstc's avatar

Did you miss what @ibstubro wrote?
“I know that there are auto phone dialers whose soul function is to determine active lines and the time of their activity. Plain-speak, they simply want to know what time of day a phone is answered by a person in order to re-sell that information at a high price.

But I’m not going to argue the point. I was just relaying to you what a telephone supervisor told me when I had the exact same problem as you; even involving the crazy random times the calls came.

Do with it what you will (or don’t )

All I know is that his explanation and advice cured my problem so I’m assuming his analysis was correct.

ETpro's avatar

@Buttonstc No, I miss what the point of calling a business line at 4 in the morning would be if all you want to determine if it’s an active line.

Buttonstc's avatar

Oy vey. I give up :)

Kardamom's avatar

@ETpro I think what @Buttonstc is saying is that the people or machines on the other end of the line could be anywhere in the world. Initially they have no idea of when you may or may not be active on your line. By calling at different times of the day and night, they can make some determinations.

ETpro's avatar

@Kardamom OK. I get that, and it;s probably right. My solution was to turn the ring tone off for the 800 number. During business hours, I check voice-mail on it from time to time and if I am at my desk, I can see the light for that line flashing and answer it. But leaving it on 24/7 just isn’t worth the hassle.

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