Perinton, N.Y.—David Labman enjoys playing piano and teaching music, but these tasks have given way to stress caused by his cell phone.
“As I was teaching, it was buzzing, buzzing and buzzing,” said Labman.
He estimates 200 phone calls and more than 30 phone messages have passed through his Samsung mobile phone since Monday.
“It’s disturbing, I feel like someone is using my identity, probably for some criminal activity,” said Labman.
It seems as though someone is making calls using his mobile number to people Labman does not know.
“I got a call from your number about an electric bill discount,” said one caller.
“If you call my number again, I will turn your number over to the Attorney General of New York State,” threatened another.
Labman’s carrier is T-Mobile.
“They checked on it, they said it was not coming from their network so they said there is not much they can do about it,” said Labman.
“One of the people on the phone said that is not something that they do, they don’t investigate things like this,” he added.
13 WHAM News explained Labman’s situation to computer forensics and discovery firm BIA, which manages data for corporations and law firms. BIA said it is possible Labman has been the victim of number "spoofing," or that his phone or number was hacked. Number spoofing is a method of using computer software to masquerade or impersonate different phone numbers, according to Adam Feinberg, Services and Support, SVP with BIA. It is possible that malicious calls were generated by someone spoofing Labman’s number, resulting in his mobile number showing up on the phones of others that he did not call.
Labman’s bank accounts have been untouched. Neither his wife nor his sons, who are part of a family plan, were affected.
A spokesperson for T-Mobile initially told 13WHAM News the company was unaware of Labman’s situation, but asked for his account number and other information about his phone. The company later provided the following statement:
“T-Mobile is committed to delivering the best experience in wireless to our customers. T-Mobile will be in touch with the customer directly and will take measures to fully investigate and address the matter.”
It’s unclear if Labman had a way to prevent what’s happened, but BIA suggests the following to consumers concerned about their cell phone security:
-Update your phone’s operating software and application updates frequently
-Use a pass code lock
-Do not use personal numbers such as birthdays or Social Security numbers as passwords
-Do not share password or pass code lock information with anyone
Labman has stopped using his cell phone for the time being, but wants to keep his number and resolve the issue.
“It’s a private number (and) I need the number for my business.”