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Phone call fuss caused by firms?

“War dialing” might be behind the spate of wrong-number calls reported by Nevada County residents in recent days, according to a Pacific Bell investigator.

Through war dialing, made possible with a computer, companies that use phone solicitation can dial 100 numbers at a time, Joseph Mahaffey, Pacific Bell manager of traps and traces, said Tuesday.



It could be that such a company has been checking its phone lines, annoying customers in the process, he added.




“Because lines are connected or disconnected over a period of years, the (company’s) telecommunication department will validate the numbers they have listed to see if they are still connected to a computer,” he said.

Mahaffey is investigating countless complaints from Fresno and further north. Making annoying phone calls can be charged as a misdemeanor, but this nuisance isn’t necessarily criminal.

“It depends on the customer’s interpretation of these calls,” he said.

The phone company has since set up phone traps for complaining customers in hopes of identifying the company, Mahaffey said.

Nevada County residents who complained to the Sheriff’s Office reported getting repeated calls. In most cases they heard a man say “wrong number” and quickly hang up. Others heard a woman speak. Some feared their homes were being cased by would-be burglars.

Sheriff Keith Royal, whose office contacted Pacific Bell last week, has also received such calls. For residents with caller ID, only a string of zeros appears.


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