5 On Your Side

Cary Couple Seeks Stop To Wrong-Number Calls

Posted July 11, 2006 4:36 a.m. EDT
Updated November 10, 2006 9:22 a.m. EST

— You're right in the middle of doing something and it interrupts you -- a wrong number.

That happens now and then for most of us. But for George and Sharon Benner, it happened all the time.

"We'd get them throughout the day," said George Benner. "Sometimes, we'd get them in the middle of the night. People were asking for reservations or people asking for insurance, and we kept trying to tell them, 'No, this is not the insurance company,' and one guy insisted at midnight that I was the insurance company trying to dodge him."

The callers all dialed an 800 number.

“We dialed it and actually saw that it comes directly to our house” said George Benner.

So, the Benners made some calls of their own. They found out the Verizon/MCI number has quite a history. It once belonged to a hotel and to an insurance company.

It now belongs to a company in Cary. George Benner said a Verizon supervisor told him he couldn't fix the problem unless he got permission from the business that now owns the number.

"It didn't matter that it was coming to our house," said George Benner. "Someone else was paying for it to come to our house, and so he couldn't stop it."

So, Benner got permission, but said the Verizon supervisor told him he still could not fix the number.

"I couldn't believe it," he said. "I'm the one who got it solved or thought I got it solved. I'm the one who did all the leg work. And did exactly what he asked of me and he still could not or would not change the number. I said, 'That's where I give up. I'm gonna give (Five On Your Side) a call.'"

Verizon spokesman Bob Elek told Five On Your Side the number was "simply routed incorrectly." He added the number belonged to MCI before it merged with Verizon. He said because of that, customer service representatives may not have known who could fix the problem.

But Elek knew how, and he fixed it.

So, now when the phone rings, chances are that the Benners know the caller.