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It's not unheard of for kids or not-such-good-friends to post someone's number as a prank or perhaps it was just a mistake: but what can you do?

Hi, Leo. The problem is that my friend started getting calls from unknown numbers saying that her number was found by them on a porn website. The fact is that she never gave her contact details ever to anyone. Then, how did her number end up on such a website? Also, will changing her number solve her problem for now (as she doesn't want to discuss with this anyone as her parents will immediately assume that she visits porn sites)?

In this excerpt from Answercast #7, I look at the various ways her number could have been posted online and discuss whether contacting the site or changing her number will help.


My first recommendation is still to talk to the parents. This is a situation where the relationship between her and her parents is a very important one and is probably the most important direction to turn.

How was the number posted?

Having said that, how did it happen? There are two scenarios that come to mind: in order for her phone number to be used, she had to have given it to someone (typically friends) so that they could call her or text her. By giving out her number, she's given it to people who then may have shared it with others.

Someone (maybe people that she thought were her friends) put it up there; either maliciously or just as a prank. It's certainly not unheard of for kids to do this kind of thing to each other. So that's one thing.

In a case like that, changing the phone number isn't going to help because if she changes her phone number and then tells her friends her new phone number (so that they can contact her), they may very well say, "Great, here's the new phone number. I'm going to go put it back out on the porn site."

Was it a mistake?

The other scenario is that the phone number on that porn site is simply a typographical error; somebody got a digit wrong. I know that I occasionally get calls from people in Florida even though I'm here in Washington. It's because there's a typo or a misunderstanding about the phone number that they're dialing. So if that's the case, if it's a typo on the porn website, there's not really a lot she can do.

I'm not sure if you want to go contacting the porn website to say, "Could you remove that?"

Changing her phone number, in this case, would work because she would then become disassociated from that other number and she would tell her friends her new number and life would go on.

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?


April 10, 2012 5:32 PM

The other scenario which you forgot to mention is that the phone company may have given the friend a phone number that was previously assigned to someone else. The phone number may have been on that site for a long time.

There was a news story here in Canada a while back. The phone number was given to a child/teen for the kid's new cell phone. When the parents found out, they complained to the phone company who issued a new phone number and did not charge the parents for changing the kid's phone number.

Alex Dow
April 14, 2012 3:58 AM

Keep in mind that a Phone Number is simply an identifying NUMBER.

It definitely is NOT a personal number, that someone else would have great difficulty in finding out.

So it is easy to generate a complete series of "Phone Numbers" that happens to include your "Phone Number".

Generally an Exchange has a few series of numbers - otherwise how would you have any idea of which number to ring, to call a friend, business etc.

Think of the times you have looked in a printed phone directory, whether White or Yellow Pages, and noted that almost everyone in a given district/village/township etc has very similar numbers.

In fact, you would probably be surprised if you found that an individual had a distinctly different number from his neighbours.

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