Unsolicited phone calls: what's causing them?




An international number appears on my phone. Should I take the call?
No, I won't. It's probably SPAM or a scam.
They'll leave a message if it's important.



Again? OK, I'll push that red button once more.



Why can't they leave me a message?
OK, I'll answer, but I'll speak Dutch.
That way they immediately know they have the wrong number.

'Hallo met Bruno.'

'Hello Bob (not his real name), I'm looking for the VP of Engineering at ACME (not the real company). I believe that's you, isn't it?'

I am fluent in English, but I persist. I keep talking Dutch.

'Wie is Bob? Ik ben Bruno. Waar heb je mijn nummer vandaan?'

'I'm sorry, I don't understand you. Don't you speak English?'

'Of course, I speak English, but I don't know you. Why did you call me?'

'I'm looking for Bob at ACME, aren't you Bob?'

'No, I'm not Bob. I know Bob and ACME, but I am not affiliated with ACME.'

'Then I must have the wrong number. Sorry for disturbing you.'

'Hold on, you called me on my personal number, looking for someone at a company I have left more than five years ago. Where did you get that number? I'm a European citizen. We have something called GDPR about data retention of personal data. If I'm not mistaken, you are not allowed to store personal information, including personal phone numbers, for longer than two years without explicit confirmation by the owner of that information.'

'Hey, calm down. I just found that number on my computer.'




For years now, I have been experiencing variations of this scenario.
Yesterday, I discovered what causes these annoying calls.
Somebody finally provided a useful answer.

'Hey, calm down, I found your number on LinkedIn Sales Navigator. It says that it belongs to Bob, VP of Engineering at ACME (again, these are not the real names).'

'Well, then that's an error. I am Bruno and no, I don't work at ACME, but I constantly receive calls like yours.'

'Sorry, mate, I didn't know.'

'No problem. I don't blame you. I'm actually very thankful. You are the first person who informed me where he found my number. Now I can do something about it.'

'I understand. I can imagine how annoying it must be for you. Anyway, have a great weekend!'


OK, let me see if I can find out where to file a complaint with LinkedIn.
Aha, here it is.
Let me try and explain my problem.

[03:23 PM] Auto-Response; Thanks for contacting us. Someone from our support team will get back to you as soon as possible.

There, now let's wait and see.

[03:49 PM] Status: Closed; Thanks for contacting us. I apologize that your experience not fulfil your needs but in this case you can remove your phone number on your profile settings.

Huh? Did this guy even read my complaint?
Let me check my profile.
No, my phone number is nowhere to be found!
Is that guy asking me to log into Bob's account to remove my phone number from his account?
What kind of nonsense is this? Let me reopen the question.

[04:24 PM] I'm sorry for not having a quick answer about your issue. I've forwarded your message to another group for additional review and advice. We'll be in contact with you as quickly as possible. Your issue may require additional research, which may extend your wait time.

OK, I'm about to start my weekend, but LinkedIn Support seems to be in the CST Time-zone.
Maybe I'll have an answer by the morning.

The next morning:

[06:10 PM] Thanks for reaching out; however, this request is out of scope for our team to manage. Our scope is exclusive to LinkedIn Enterprise Customers and LinkedIn Suppliers. Given that this is a Member inquiry, our advice is that you redirect to the LinkedIn Trust & Safety team.

If I understand correctly, the people responsible for selling erroneous data to their customers (scope: LinkedIn Enterprise Customers and LinkedIn Suppliers) don't care when someone who isn't a customer (scope: Member inquiry) complains that he's the victim of their practices. I should contact the LinkedIn Trust & Safety team instead.

OK, but let me start by writing a blog post about my experiences with LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
I want to avoid having to repeat myself.
If I have a blog post I can refer to it in case I get redirected once more.

Important: I contacted the real Bob in the past, complaining that my number got mixed with his profile. He assured me that he didn't have my number on his profile. So either Bob is lying, or LinkedIn somehow matched my number with his profile to sell it to its customers.

Update: I contacted the LinkedIn Trust & Safety team. This was their answer:

[01:21 PM] Status: Closed; We've investigated this matter and have concluded that the contact information you've described is not being obtained from LinkedIn. The partial phone numbers you mentioned are not associated with your LinkedIn account, Bob's linkedin account, ACME's account nor newCo's account or otherwise stored by LinkedIn (outside of the present correspondence) and therefore not obtainable from your LinkedIn profile.
We are aware that third parties [such as for example Lusha] may sometimes acquire contact information about LinkedIn members and represent that they received the information from LinkedIn, when in fact they did not. Often, this is an effort to add legitimacy to the nature of the contact. We encourage you to follow up directly with those who are contacting you to question where they obtained your contact information and the legality of their practices.
I certainly understand how this would be alarming. We want to maintain your privacy and trust, so we adhere to the following principles to protect your privacy:

  1. We will never rent or sell your personally identifiable information to third parties for marketing purposes.
  2. We will never share your contact information with another user without your consent.
  3. Any sensitive information that you provide will be secured with all industry-standard protocols and technology.

When I wrote this blog post, I simplified the story. In reality, more than one person who called me from an international number told me my number was obtained from LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Either all those people have been lying to me, or they falsely assumed that they were using LinkedIn data ... or my phone number can still be retrieved from LinkedIn.


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