I am not sure this is the right community, but my problem originated with me travelling abroad.

I've travelled to Germany about a month ago (and I am still staying there). About two weeks later I''ve been informed by two people from my home country that they have missed calls from some unknown cell numbers in Germany (numbers are starting from +49). I've never disclosed their numbers to anyone, but those are the people I call quite frequently (my gf and my father).

What could be the cause? I think they are getting scammed, but how could attacker get hold of their cell numbers?

EDIT: some more information:

  • I've been to France in July and nothing similar happened
  • Those missed calls do not coincide in time with me calling my contacts
  • I am using an Android phone and I have scanned it with an antivirus - it did not find anything
  • the only German application I have installed during my stay abroad was an official public transportation app
  • I don't see any suspicious calls in my call history
  • I am using my home network SIM card for roaming
  • As far as I can tell those are mobile numbers

  • This may be important: I have tried searching for the numbers and did not find any reports about those exact numbers. BUT all of them start with the same digits: +49176, followed by eight other digits, different in case of each call. I have found one source that says this is a prefix used by German o2 network (which, curiously, is the network I use here for roaming). I have found a number of reports from people who received unwanted calls from numbers in this format - some people identify source as German, other say that the number only looks like German but originates from elsewhere. Nevertheless, I find it a strange coincidence that the people I know have started receiving those calls - from numbers which start with German country code - after I arrived in Germany.

  • 1
    What kind of phone do you have? Did you download any German apps that may not be 100% reliable? Can you check your call history for any calls you wouldn’t have made?
    – jcaron
    Sep 23, 2018 at 9:38
  • @jcaron I don't see anything suspicious with my call history. The only German app I've downloaded was an official public transportation app. Being afraid that my Android phone might have gotten compromised I've also scanned it, and antivirus found nothing.
    – lukeg
    Sep 23, 2018 at 9:52
  • 1
    In my experience there is a decent chance that a poorly-privacy-oriented application sent your number to some outbound call centres who bulk call individuals for selling them pay tv packages or electricity contracts. Frustrating, indeed....... I also don't believe in Android antiviruses Sep 23, 2018 at 13:48
  • 1
    Bear in mind that it's technically impossible for "antivirus" apps to work as claimed on Android (or iOS for that matter) phones, due to sandboxing of apps. More than likely your contact database was leaked by a "monetisation" framework included in some app you use that has contacts permission. It's possible that it's an app you've had installed since before you came to Germany, but now that you're in Germany your location data (also leaked) caused a new buyer to be found for your contact list, and that buyer has started making cold calls to your contacts.
    – jbg
    Oct 18, 2018 at 4:40
  • 1
    @Mary I have never found what this was about and the calls have stopped some time (2 weeks?) after I had returned to my home country.
    – lukeg
    Nov 22, 2019 at 18:41

1 Answer 1


I can't tell you the reason, but I can tell a few things to do:

  1. You may answer a call if you are interested, but be aware of a scam.
  2. Never call the number back. It may be a scam, in the best case scenario, you will pay a premium for the international call.
  3. Do not worry. If there is any important information it would be delivered by mail or at least by email.

These 3 simple things work with any international numbers calling you.

  • 1
    FYI: If you get calls from UK numbers +843 or +845, they are most likely scams that will charge you if you call back the number. I get daily calls from such numbers, different numbers every time and my iPhone doesn't let me block a range like +843. Calls always last for two seconds. Importantly the scam is convincing you to call back, that alone lets them steal your money.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 26, 2022 at 8:52

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