If you suddenly start receiving constant or occasional missed calls from unknown ISD Numbers (which starts with +92, +375, +371 etc.), then it’s highly recommended that you should ignore them. There’s NO need to call back as they all are spoof calls originating from some other country and their primary purpose is to make money by charging premium call rates.
If by mistake you call back such numbers, then one of the following things will happen:
- You will hear a bogus computer recorded message, which don’t make any sense, and will have to pay premium call rates apart from normal ISD calling charges. The money goes directly into the pocket of the culprit.
- You will hear bogus discount codes for a luxurious item. The IVRS may even ask you to enter your credit or debit card number.
Update (28/4/2014): These con man or low-lives have now started calling people! One of my family member attended 2 separate incoming calls originating from Pakistan (+92) and the person on the other end said following things to her:
- We (the number) have won a lottery of 1.5 million Indian Rupees (15 lacs INR or $25,000 approx) from AirTel and we are required to call an ISD number to claim our prize amount.
- One of my family member has met with a terrible accident and is currently admitted in a hospital. Call immediately an ISD number to know the details!
Why are we receiving such calls?
Mobile marketing is booming in almost every country and following are the top reasons because of which you are receiving bogus calls on your number:
- Publicly Accessible Mobile Numbers: If in the past you have left your mobile number on Twitter, blogs, publicly accessible forums, job search sites, web resume or curriculum vitae etc., then you gave mobile number harvesters direct access to your phone number. Mobile number harvesters are just like email address harvesters, whose primary purpose is to spider webpages, USENET groups, mailing lists, public forums etc. to collect phone numbers. Try not to post your mobile as well as IMEI number on the internet.
- Companies selling your phone number: This happens rarely, but there is a high possibility that your private bank, insurance company, website that allows you to send free SMS online etc. is selling your phone number to culprits and marketers. I recently bought a fresh prepaid number (registered under DND registry) and mentioned it in the registration form of a private insurance company. Lo and behold, after three days my new number was bombarded with promotional text messages and calls from different companies.
- Database of a company gets hacked: When database of a company containing all confidential information about its customers gets hacked, then your email address and phone number will be bombarded with promotional and spoof messages (Example).
The best way to remain safe is to completely ignore calls which are coming from some other country, unless you have got relatives/friends residing there.
Following are some other things you can do:
- If you have a smartphone, then you can block incoming numbers in it by using a third party application or the in-built call blocking feature of the mobile OS.
- Register your number in the Do Not Disturb Registry of your country and ask your telecom operator what to do about bogus calls, missed calls and text messages?
- As a last resort, change your number and this time try not to circulate/post it everywhere.
Important note: These type of calls can’t clone the SIM of your mobile device OR transfer your contacts to the culprit. This is a false information that is circulating on the internet!