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Finances & Money

The Evil Cellphone Number

It was only a week ago that I got Stacie a cellphone for her upstart home-based business, and already I had to take action against it. I’ll say up front that I wish there was a screening process for new phone numbers!

In just a week with the phone, we’ve had over a dozen voicemails and just as many answered ones from various bill collectors, friends and family looking for the former owner of the phone. We even had a voicemail from his bank stating there was suspicious activity with his ATM card.

I have to wonder, what happened to this guy??? Did he die, did he flee the country? Is he just gone on a long, unexpected vacation? No matter what, though, keeping this phone number was out of the question.

We happened to be in a mall on Saturday, so I stopped in to Verizon Wireless and asked what I should do. They replied that I should dial *611 to get through to tech support. They said I would get charged if I did it in-store, so call support (probably a lie, but I bought it). I called when I got home and easily got the number changed. After hanging up, I had to punch in a few numbers to reprogram the phone and it was done.

But this isn’t the first time we’ve gotten a bad phone number. Back when we tried out the Verizon Freedom Package (I compared it to Vonage here), the last owner of the number was also running from the debt collectors and I spent a good bit of time on the phone explaining the change to them. We eventually dropped that line and kept Vonage (for numerous reasons, mainly cost).

So if you get a new phone number, cell or home, and you’re getting spam messages or unwanted calls, be sure to get rid of it as early as you can. I didn’t have any problem switching phone numbers, but I’m sure if I waited more than 3-4 weeks, I would have been stuck with it.

About the author

Clever Dude


  • A few years ago, a friend got an 800 number that was one didgit off from the AARP prescription line. He recieved many calls every day from hard of hearing seniors insisting that they had dialed right and that he fill their prescription! After a few months of high bills, he switched his number.

  • Good call getting it changed. It wouldn’t get better. My roommate had that problem and she had people calling her, harassing her, using her minutes. Sometimes she’d just cry because she was so frustrated. She got it changed too.

  • I have a landline number that Verizon gave me when I moved into my house almost 5 years ago. And I still to this day get calls from bill collectors looking for the previous “owner” of that phone number. The funny thing is he never lived at my location but 10 towns over (I found this out when I made a purchase at Sears and at the checkout I gave them my phone number and they asked me if I was that guy and I asked to look at the information on their screen). I don’t know how Verizon picks phone numbers for new customers but I wish they’d screen those numbers and not give out ones where a customer skipped out on his phone bill….

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