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Random people are coming to my home saying their lost/stolen cellphone is at my house!

The latest person to show up on my door step was at 9pm last night. He said that his "findmyiphone" sent him to my home. This has happened 2 times before and some people refuse to leave. I don't know what (if) the others used some kinda app to try to locate their phone.

A couple months ago a police officer came to my home saying they received a "911 hangup call" from my home. I've called Apple and they gave me some suggestions. I called my ISP and changed my network name and password, they had me also unplug the modem.

I am not computer savvy and have no clue what to do. I'm currently on the phone with my cell phone carrier and they seemed as lost as me. Any advice is appreciated.

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    Unfortunately, we can't help. The first thing that comes to mind is a cloned phone ID being used. – schroeder Sep 21 '15 at 21:42
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    Could it be a GPS location mistake in Apple Maps (or whatever the findmyphone app is)? So the phone is somewhere else but incorrectly reporting it's location as your home. Perhaps you could report the problem to Apple (or whomever) to have them make a map fix. – Neil Smithline Sep 21 '15 at 22:05
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    I wonder if your home may be at a GPS point such that the position of a phone located in a large area is "rounded" at your house. Of course, if the findmyiphone app is harassing you by sending random people to your house, the solution is to sue… er, kindly ask their authors to fix their app. They will be surprised to find out about this! – Ángel Sep 21 '15 at 22:06
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    Try Googling your street address and/or GPS coordinates, see if the problem happened before you moved in there. Maybe there is some default hardcoded location left over for debugging that wasn't completely removed in the FindMyPhone infrastructure and some edge case is making it surface again, and it just so happens to be centered on your home? – André Borie Sep 21 '15 at 22:24
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    In any case you should probably get in touch with the police to notify them about the issue, just so they know about it and don't take you for a phone thief. – André Borie Sep 21 '15 at 22:27
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This actually may be much simpler. I remember a few months back reading a story about a couple who had this happen on a nearly weekly occurrence. It turns out that one of these "find my phone" companies was lazy and had coded a spot to use as default if the GPS signal was lost. This spot happened to be on top of this couple's house.

Link:http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/01/find-my-phone-apps-mistakenly-bring-dozens-of-people-to-this-house-in-atlanta/

If/When this happens again(and it's the same app), I would ask the visitor's which app they used (as this keeps happening). Contact support at the whatever company it is and ask for them to review their code.

  • If I had this problem, I would print out the article and hang it on the outside of the house. Then it should be obvious to the visitor that this is a reoccurring problem. – Dog eat cat world Mar 22 '16 at 23:57
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Make sure you have a good network password for your WiFi (not just your username/password with your ISP), I think given the number of times this has happened perhaps one of your neighbours is actually stealing phones and joining them to your WiFi or are connecting to something in your area?

Then I'd also pro-actively warn the police that this (as in people keep coming round) keeps happening, so they have it on file and you don't end up finding yourself being arrested if another allegation is made. Offer to comply fully with them and state you are happy for them to search your home (which they more than likely won't anyway) until they are content it can be ruled out then this should help prevent you from having long drawn out dealings with them later.

I also found this of interest, so it would also be worth speaking to the company, maybe they can remove your address as one of the ones that shows up. It's possible Sprint have stated the IP address it resolves to is your address as there may be a mast in area that people are actually being led to, if you know where your nearest mast is (and it is that close) it might be worth pointing that out to the people looking for their phone. This of course backs up #1 that there probably is someone stealing phones in your area!

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    Never, ever invite the police to search without having your lawyer present. Sure, you don't have those errant cell phones, but you might have something else that you believe is completely innocent. Example: That prescription vial with one hydrocodone tablet (expired) that your Aunt Matilda left behind when she visited. That said, notifying the police is an extremely good idea. Do it in writing. Write to the chief of police and offer to meet with the detectives who investigate that kind of crime. – Bob Brown Oct 4 '15 at 17:09
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    In the UK this would be fine, the gesture would be mostly token and they would be extremely unlikely to take you up on it. In the US point taken it might be different :-). – Matthew1471 Oct 5 '15 at 19:21
  • I disagree that this would be "OK" in the UK but being proactive about contacting law enforcement is a good recommendation, even if inviting them to search your home is not. People coming to your door and making accusations, even if they have been given good reason to believe this is the case, is harassment. – symcbean Mar 23 '16 at 10:20

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