A Cellphone Number with a Celebrity Past
Getting a new cell phone number can come with some risks. The reassigned phone number may carry its old subscriber’s baggage and the unsuspecting consumer may get calls trying to reach the old user.
But what happens when your cell phone number used to belong to a celebrity? In 2012, Jonathon Nichols, then a law student at Seattle University, found out the answer to that question. Nichols had he walked into a Verizon store and chose a new local phone number that he thought would be easy to remember.
Shortly after getting his new phone number, Nichols told the Seattle Times, he started to get phone calls from luxury car dealerships, like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Jaguar, asking him if he would like to go to the dealerships and take a couple of cars for test rides. Nichols would tell the salespeople, “I’d love to, but I think you have the wrong guy. I’m a broke law student.”
Soon, Nichols began to receive offers for free concert tickets and visits backstage. It was not until August 12, 2012, that figured out what was going on. While he was at softball tournament, his phone was bombarded with “Happy Birthday” texts, photos, and finally, references to the 1992 rap hit, “Baby Got Back.” It was only then that he realized, his phone number used to belong to hip-hop legend Sir-Mix-A-Lot, the man behind the song. He looked up the artist’s birthday, and sure enough, it was the same day.
Nichols has decided to keep the number, saying that it gives him a way to stand out and look cool. Interviewers are always impressed when he tells them, “I have Sir Mix-A-Lot’s old phone number.” “It’s a total mic drop.”
Jonathon Nichols cell phone came with an amusing past and a funny story. Most consumers are not so lucky. In lieu of calls from luxury car dealership and offers of free concert tickets, many consumers will receive harassing phone calls from debt collectors trying to reach the previous holder. If an individual was unable to pay his or her cellphone bill, resulting in a disconnection, there is a good chance that there are other outstanding debts. Unfortunately, it is the next holder of number that can receive the debt collectors’ misplaced wrath.
To remedy this, Congress enacted the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to help with the abuse. Calls to a consumer’s cellphone, without permission, may constitute a violation of the TCPA and can carry penalties of between $500 and $1,500 per call. In addition to the fines, many consumers have found that the only way to stop calls is to file a lawsuit.
If you are getting calls from Sir-Mix-A-Lot, try reaching Mix. But for debt collection and telemarketing calls aimed at the wrong person, you may have better luck contacting an attorney.