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I've had an unusual experience today. A phone number (not withdrawn number) texted me demanding to know who I was. Their tone was aggressive and I simply told them I don't know their number. When I asked how they got my number they told me I'd just phoned them, and backed that up with a screenshot showing a missed call from my mobile phone number calling moments ago.

Needless to say, I did not phone this unknown number, there's nothing in my call history.

I've tried googling my number to see if anyone else is getting cold calls from it, so far, no reports. I am concerned that someone's found a way to make calls from my phone number without my knowledge or consent.

Details:

  • My mobile service is provided by EE in the UK
  • My phone has been right by my side the whole time, nobody else here.

So here's the questions:

  • Could someone have made calls from my number? If so, how can I guard against this?
  • Are there sometimes random calls due to network issues?
  • Could this be first contact for any known scams? Pretending to have received a call from someone?

Any information on this would be helpful. Thank you!

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Just like you can send a mail and make it look like it came from an adress you don't own, there is ways to make a phone call and make it look like it came from another number.

Basically, when a phone call is made, your phone provide your number so the recipient can see which number called them. But as it is your phone that provide the information, one can manipulate it to make it look like it came from someone else.

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  • Any clues why someone would be doing this?
    – AJFaraday
    Jun 3 '20 at 14:04
  • It's easy to trace back and can only be used to fool the one recieving the call. So apart from a spear phishing or a prank, I can't see why.
    – Thryn
    Jun 3 '20 at 14:34
  • When you say it's easy to trace back, do you mean there's a way I could find out? Or could it be passed on to my network? or some other authority?
    – AJFaraday
    Jun 3 '20 at 14:38
  • You can warn your network to avoid trouble, and they will be able to get who did this.It would be the best move to do, because it's actually possible to steal a phone number, so that would guard you from troubles if something like that happen.
    – Thryn
    Jun 3 '20 at 14:50
  • Thank you! I'll see if I can get anywhere with my network.
    – AJFaraday
    Jun 3 '20 at 14:57
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It is trivial to make one's phone number look like it has come from another. It's a little like putting "#10 Downing Street" as the return address on a letter.

The call was not "made from your number", just as the letter would not have been sent by the PM.

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  • Perhaps it's not clear from the question, that is what I meant.
    – AJFaraday
    Jun 3 '20 at 12:44
  • 2
    @AJFaraday: The emphasis is on "look like". The call did probably not originate from your phone, but people can be "fooled" to think, that you actually called them.
    – Tom K.
    Jun 3 '20 at 13:03

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