Spam callers – or telemarketers, as they are also known – are super annoying. But how do these spammers gain access to a phone number?
In Chuck Palahniuk’s wildly hilarious novel; damnedexplains the origin of spam calls; they come from hell and they are made by the damned souls residing there, penance for sins and evils.
Nothing has ever been better written about telemarketers.
Most healthy people often wonder why it’s called spam or telemarketing, which is still legal. After all, it is a total invasion of your privacy and is always totally unacceptable.
Of course there is a difference between a telemarketer and an actual spam caller; Telemarketing is legal and is done to promote an active business, when spam callers actively try to defraud you, access to your accounts and basically destroy your life.
Both are of a very large order. That goes without saying. But how do these spam callers get the number in the first place? Even people who are incredibly careful about sending a number still call it spam, how does this happen?
How Do Spam Callers Get Your Number?
As with most things in life, there are a million and one ways a phone number can find its way into the hands of a spam caller – or a telemarketing company.
Some are obvious, but some will be very offensive to you. As long as it is enough Easily narrow down the spam list on the iPhonestill understand how you get the phone number of spammers in the first place.
Here’s how the spam blocker has decided to pick up the phone number…
1. They bought it from your carrier
This doesn’t happen much anymore, but in 2018, a few major US carriers – AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile – were caught selling location data to third parties. And if that wasn’t enough, before 2016, they were also selling their phone number.
If you didn’t change your phone number before 2016, and you were with one of these major carriers, it’s more than likely that both your location AND phone number were sold to three parties (that’s advertising and marketing companies).
As a result, despite your careful planning, you still end up with spam. Thanks, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile!
2. Wait List Restaurants
Everyone likes a hot, new restaurant, right? If they live in a major city, they tend to pop up all the time. They always have and expect limits. Fortunately, you can now use restaurant wait list apps to book your table just in advance, saving you the headache of calling multiple times to get a reservation.
All good, right? Well, no, not really. A lot of these restaurants have a list of apps waiting for terms and conditions, you see, and these T&Cs are filled with all kinds of boring nonsense information that most people ignore when they click ACCEPT after purchasing an app.
It turns out that a lot of these apps sell your data to third-party companies, so if you’ve been using an app on your phone while waiting for a restaurant email, chances are that your app data has been sold to spammers and telemarketers. For this reason, always read the app’s T&Cs.
3. 800, 888, 900 Num
If you happen to call an 800, 888, or 900 number and the company or entity they’re calling is not exactly held, the phone number will be unlocked and saved from anyone calling. Customer Identification Number (ANI).
They will then match the ANI and add your number to the databases of online trading companies. It finds the best match for your number, from its history, and then proceeds to sell the number to third parties, so they can start spam calling you with their terrible offers.
4. Fake Charities (And Some Read Charities)
Giving to charity is a pretty noble thing to do, even if you know the truth about how many of them work – they’re usually just businesses that don’t pay tax.
Charities, large and small, often use third-party marketing companies to collect donations. As part of the deal, these marketing companies are allowed to retain aspects of the data they collect. Your address, phone number, email address.
Hence the process is simple; The marketing company either sells your data to other marketing companies or uses the data it collects to drive its own marketing campaigns and offers about you..
If you are a charity, you will never give them your number or email address.
5. Random Number Generators
You’ve heard of random number generators, right? Well, there is technology you can buy that will generate random phone numbers and call them with a script. This is less of a problem, to be honest, and it can literally happen to anyone – they just get lucky, essentially.
If one of these machines works 24/7, 365 a year, it will potentially call millions of unexpected people. You could be one of them. After all, there are only so many potential phone number combinations.
How do you know if this has happened? It’s pretty simple: pick up the phone to answer the call and you’re met with an automated message – usually something about the IRS chasing you for taxes or new activity on your card and/or Amazon credit card.
If you’re gullible, then you’ll do what the automated message suggests and that’s when the spammers will have you, harvest your account details, credit card numbers or worse. If your call is automated, just hang up and ignore it.
6. Data Breaches & The Dark Web
Data crashes happen all the time. It could be your local gym, Amazon, or even your bank. Hackers are always looking for backdoors in websites and firewalls. When they find them, they extract terabytes of data, and then proceed to sell them on the dark web.
Why do they do this? money Your information is worth a lot of money to spammers and marketing companies. If you can extract the phone numbers of millions of Americans, you can make millions of dollars for spammers and dark web criminals.
This happens over a QUIET TIME, so always be careful who you share a phone number with – no company is ever completely safe and secure. That’s why it sometimes makes sense to have two numbers, one for all your personal stuff and another you share with banks and other businesses.
7. Stupid Online Contests & Competitions
If you’re the type of person who gets into fights, stop – seriously, stop doing it. Literally the only reason for competition is to collect your data so that commercial companies can target you with their ads, deals and offers. You never win, business partnerships do.
This is one of the simplest and easiest ways for commercial companies and third parties to get your number. When they have a number, they can A) spam you with deals, messages and offers or B) sell your number to other third party marketing companies. Either way you’ve arrived.
Thankfully, it’s really easy Narrow spam filter on iPhone.
Richard Goodwin has worked as a technical journalist for over 10 years. He is the publisher and owner of KnowYourMobile.