Recycled home telephone number scandal

in Phones & TV
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[Deleted User][Deleted User] Forumite
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Well it is a complete and utter disgrace as far as i am concerned so i thought i would bring it to the attention of people on here. Hope its useful information for someone at least

Apologies in advance as i do ramble on a bit sometimes!!! anyway here goes.....

I have recently more recently had personal issues with my 19 year old daughter (has mental health issues amongst many others) and as a result myself and my wife have decided to sever ties with her for the time being due to endless phone calls at all hours of the day and night and other issues. (if i tell you the full story of my daughters woes over the last several years we will be here for some considerable time so i will leave the rest of the details on that for now!!) As a result of this we are looking to change our home telephone number. I have enquired about this with my provider (sky) previously and told it was not an issue to do this and no major headache. After another week of endless calls day and night plus many other sales calls etc we finally decided enough was enough and tried to do this today. Contacted sky and they said no problem just needed a crime reference number and it could be done. This issues so far so good. Until they explained that the new number would be a recycled number as they put it and would be a number that had been out of circulation for six months or more. Asked if there was an option to have a brand new previously unissued phone number and was told this was not an option as there were no new numbers in the uk being issued currently. This i thought was outrageous nonsense and the no new numbers in the uk issue is not completely 100% true but the recycled phone number issue is

Absolutely unbelievable. I contacted bt and another phone provider namely plus net and after questioning them on this it was confirmed the same that they could not guarantee if i came to them i would not have a recycled phone number. Onwards from this i contacted watchdog of com . Now i have had previous contact with of com and i already knew they were a bit of a waste of time and money but after the further communication with them this confirmed that 110%. They have told me that they have no powers to ensure the recycled phone number issue was resolved as required nor was it a requirement of the industry to issue previously unissued numbers

So heres the situation in summary. You get nuisance calls and after all other avenues have been exhausted you decide to change your number only to be told that the alternative is a number previously issued to someone else who also may have had similar issues and you inherit their calls potentially. Is this right? i think not is it acceptable? i know its not and is it right that all uk phone providers issue recycled numbers without even necessarily even mentioning it to people. I only became aware of this issue due to the fact that sky mentioned this if they hadn't it would not even have crossed my mind to be honest

I think at the very least all companies should be forced to mention this prominently in literature and websites etc as i believe its false advertising and very misleading at the very least

Look forward to any replies to this thread with your thoughts views and suggestions

apologies again for rambling on but its really got up my pipe this one or should i say its tapped my phone line!!!!


  • Oli.sOli.s Forumite
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    Where I live the telephone numbers consist of an area code followed by 6 digits. Presumably if they just kept issuing new numbers instead of recycling them the 6 digit numbers would get used up and they would then have to go to 7 digit numbers and so on.
  • TigsteroonieTigsteroonie Forumite
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    We used to get telephone calls from catalog companies chasing debts with the previous owners of our home number.

    We contacted Virgin (our supplier) and they changed the number. They assured us that although it was a recycled number, there was at least a three month gap before reissuing.

    We immediately started getting phone calls from catalog companies for a different person with different debts :mad: We also received some personal calls for the previous owner of the number, one of which advised that they had called their friend less than a month previously.

    Looks like we cannot avoid having a landline in the next house (not if we want BB) but we won't bother connecting a telephone. Only two people ever genuinely phone us on the landline, so we will swap to something like Skype.
    :heartpuls Mrs Marleyboy :heartpuls

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  • PasturesNewPasturesNew Forumite
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    They can't just create new numbers on demand. Even where a number is 6 digits long, the first two usually indicate the area/exchange and it's the last 4 numbers available.

    Maybe you'll get a recycled number from somebody who just left the area, or died, and the new house owner took their previous number with them.
  • edited 27 May 2014 at 9:05PM
    iniltousiniltous Forumite
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    edited 27 May 2014 at 9:05PM
    OFCOM own and allocate blocks of numbers to service providers, so each provider has a range of numbers they can allocate from, given it's a finite list of numbers if you order a new line or ask for an existing line to be renumbered you are almost certainly going to get a number that has been used by someone else in the past,
    As others have said, with a 6 digit phone number the first and second digits will probably signify the individual exchange, this leaves 4 numbers, 0000 to 9999 , so a maximum of 10 thousand numbers , possibly serving a small town ,
    No provider cannot afford to hold numbers back , and why would they ? , some places , smaller towns etc. the 3rd digit may also identify the exch so you are then down to 1000 numbers, factor in all the new providers , Sky, TalkTalk, etc as well as BT, that want a block of numbers for their networks, you can see, phone numbers are quite a scarce resource.
    All you can hope for is that the 'new' number wasn't recently in use, although it may be as few as 3 months before a number is but back into circulation, and that the previous renter of that number hasn't got lots of people trying to contact them and getting you in error, even then you can always ask for yet another renumber.
    It may not be what you want to here but it's they way it is, and in your case the reason you want a renumber is to stop calls from a particular person, and even if you get a recycled number, the person who's calls you want to stop wouldn't know this number, so the calls will stop, and isn't that the important thing ?
  • BuzbyBuzby Forumite
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    The ONLY way to get a non-recycled number is to use a VOIP provider, who were allocated ranges that BT never used. However, you are losing sight of your original problem in search of a Holy Grail. Even if the number is recycled your daughter will not discover it - was that not the problem?

    VOIP landline numbers can be very useful as I have yet to be cold called, and no user had it before me. (although there are still no guarantees) it does provide you with what you want.

    Expecting new virgin numbers to be conjured up out of nowhere is unattainable in this day and age on the fixed network.
  • whitewingwhitewing Forumite
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    Sounds like you have been through some very trying times. I agree that you are best to change your number anyway. I expect you will get very few calls for the old owners. If anyone does call, just check what number has been dialled (in case it is a misdial). If it isn't a misdial then let them know the number was recycled. If you get a lot of calls for the old owners then maybe the phone company can treat as per nuisance calls and answer on your behalf and only put people through if it is for you.

    If it were a big actual problem then I am sure the process would be different.

    I reported someone to the police a few years ago. Then I got a lot of silent calls that frightened the life out of me. But the two events were nothing to do with each other, and the calls turned out to be an automatic dialler that accidentally hung up when the call was answered. The phone company sorted it out.
    :heartsmil When you find people who not only tolerate your quirks but celebrate them with glad cries of "Me too!" be sure to cherish them. Because these weirdos are your true family.
  • littleboolittleboo Forumite
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    It's certainly not a scandal. It's naive to think think there is an unlimited supply of previously unused numbers.
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Forumite
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    Thanks for all your replies thus far

    This issue had never previously crossed my mind in all honesty I assumed (wrongly it seems) that a new number was what it says on the tin but obviously this is deceptively wrong. In my view the explanations above are understandable however I believe this should be clearly stated on all phone companies literature and websites etc so people are then allowed to know the truth and make the decision accordingly. Ofcom are a waste of public funds no question and are not required in my opinion but then again welcome to England. I'm not sure what the real answer to this problem is but I do believe it could be managed better by the telecoms industry and at the end of the day any slight improvement would be better than what we have at present

    I hope the issues I have do resolve themselves one way or other and the last several years have been exceptionally trying for me and my family based upon all the stress and strain including two heart attacks I just want some peace and would be quite happy to go and sit and rock somewhere in a bay window for a year or two with no phone! Not much chance of that but we can dream
  • Nick_CNick_C Forumite
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    My first ever BT number, in 1981, was a recycled number! Nothing new here.

    I had a "new" number when I had a VOIP service from Orange for a while. It was an 0845 number.
  • mattyprice4004mattyprice4004 Forumite
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    To be honest it's common sense to appreciate that there's only so many combinations of 6-digit numbers - we're stuck with 0-9 unfortunately. :)
    It's not an issue, and it's certainly not a new thing.
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