With just about every person in every family having their own cellphone, odds are that whenever you get a “new” number, it’s actually a recycled number that previously belonged to at least one other person. But not all of us can hit the recycled number lottery and end up with Sir Mix-A-Lot’s old digits. No, some folks will be stuck having to explain to strange callers that they are not “Pebbles,” the escort who once used that phone number.
CBS Chicago has the story of a mom who was less than pleased to learn that the new phone line she’d purchased from T-Mobile for her 13-year-old daughter not only once belonged to an escort, but that the number was still listed online as in that escort’s contact information.
“My daughter called me at my office and said that someone is calling and asking for Pebbles,” explains the mom, who says these callers left voicemails and texts asking things like “Where are you? Where can I meet you? Where do you live?”
A quick Google search of the daughter’s number turned up multiple online ads for the escort, says mom.
T-Mobile provided the daughter with a different number, but her mother tells CBS that she wants the phone companies to have some sort of processes for preventing this from happening again.
But can that be done? T-Mobile has more than 50 million postpaid and prepaid customers, with millions of subscribers entering and leaving the company’s umbrella every year. A system to check if a number is associated with illicit activity would seem to require individualized investigation on the part of T-Mobile, running each recycled number through various searches before handing out to a new customer. And just because a number doesn’t turn up on public searches doesn’t mean it’s not linked to a person or activity that the new owner might find objectionable.
In fact, a T-Mobile rep tells CBS Chicago that there is currently no way for the company to vet recycled numbers in this manner.
The best you can do is check these numbers for yourself before you put that phone in your kid’s hand, and if there are any reasons to be concerned about a phone number’s history, deal with it before random people are lighting up your kid’s phone.