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This isn't really an application question, but StackExchange doesn't really have a VoIP/Phone forum from what I can see.

Anyways, I have an Asterisk server setup at our office and its just on a normal POTS line. Tonight I saw a call come in from caller ID 1702347605. I couldn't get to it in time and I wouldn't have answered it anyways. Of course, that number is either not valid or I'm not seeing the sequence right. Since the caller ID doesn't show the leading 1, here are some possibilities for what it could be:

17-0234-7605 - Looks like a country code? But I can't find 17 as a country code.

170-234-7605 - Of course area codes below 200 aren't allowed in the NA numbering plan AFAIK.

1702-347-605 - Some new Caribbean area code? I can't find any evidence of this though.

Was the caller ID just faked? I know this is possible and that there are some phone companies out there that allow this. I've looked around online and other people seem to also be confused about this number and ones like it.

I know I could just let it go, but enough people seem to be asking that question online that it really deserves a better answer. Hopefully someone here will know.

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closed as off topic by Sathya, random Nov 30 '10 at 5:55

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Still, SU is not a dumping ground – random Nov 30 '10 at 5:55
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Actually the caller id can be almost anything, not just numbers. I've seen some callerid numbers come into our asterisk server from the upstream provider that are clearly wrong though.

e.g. 6464. 64 is the NZ country code. For some reason they plonked it on twice! I've also seen big long sequences of numbers come in that were also clearly wrong. Again, an upstream provider issue.

Anyway, back to your question. It's either a valid phone number, or an incorrect caller id. And, you'll never know if the area code is 17, 170 or 1702.

The thing with area codes is that they are really just arbitrary length number sequences normally used for charging calls. The billing systems just take the longest possible number match to decide what to charge. i.e. they might have 170234 as an entry into their billing system that says "charge 2c/min", or it might be just the 1 on the front. It all depends on the configuration. There will be some rules defined by your country's telco industry though. So if this is a real phone number and is local then you'd be able to find out what the area code is.

Area codes used to be much more clearly defined geographical areas, but in these days of digital calls and VOIP phone systems the area codes are pretty much just software configuration.

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Good answer. Do you think there is a risk that accepting the call could lead to a charge on our end other than whatever they might be trying to scam us on? – deltaray Nov 30 '10 at 1:52

I could easily see this as being due to a configuration mistake with something that allows you to enter your number and doesn't verify what you did.

I'm going to guess it was supposed to be 702-347-605?, a Las Vegas, Nevada number. Someone put the leading 1 when they shouldn't have and then lost the last digit because they were only allowed 10.

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There are VoIP apps that will allow you to spoof your outgoing ID with a simple settings change; it doesn't yet appear to be illegal.

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A quick search reveals that many people are receiving calls from telemarketers using what appears to be a 170 area code. I'd say it's more likely to be a spoofed caller ID. – goblinbox Nov 30 '10 at 2:26

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