8

The reason I ask is because I have gotten various calls from seemingly random numbers saying that I had called them. When I check my call log, there is no outgoing call to their number.

This has happened multiple times, but not very often, maybe once every two weeks. I am normally very careful with the apps that I download and have avg downloaded and scanning periodically. Could it be that someone else can use the same number to call?

  • Anecdotal: I've called a friends number that I know was right, rang it several times, every time I was put through to an increasing irate lady. I assume the networks routing was messed up somehow, eventually it sorted its self outself out. How long has your problem been going on? – Peanut Sep 17 '13 at 22:09
  • @Peanut It's happened about 4 times in the past month and a half, and I'm not sure it's really an issue. Now that I think of it, when It happens, I am in a really bad signal zone, so that might contribute. – farraman Sep 18 '13 at 15:51
  • 1. Is this issue still happening to you? 2. Does your carrier let you view your call logs online? 3. Is it possible that telemarketers are making robocalls and including your phone number in the caller ID data packet? I believe the "your captain speaking" telemarketers and the fake "Marriott Hotels" telemarketers both send fake caller ID data. – unforgettableidSupportsMonica Jul 15 '15 at 21:27
11

An app with the appropriate permissions can not only initiate calls without you knowing, but also remove all evidence from your call logs:

  • CALL_PHONE: Allows an application to initiate a phone call without going through the Dialer user interface for the user to confirm the call being placed.
  • WRITE_CALL_LOG: Allows an application to write (but not read) the user's contacts data.

(Source: Manifest Permissions).

If your provider supports a full call listing on your bill: that's a place no app can touch, so there you would find evidence.

Though it is technically possible somebody else could fake your number, that's rather unlikely. To do this, one would need some privileges a normal phone connector doesn't offer; so this person must either sit at a provider's site directly, or at some (usually bigger) company with the appropriate privileges granted.


To help you isolating the possible culprit, there are several tools available. I'd suggest to take a look at something like Permission Explorer:

Permission Explorer: Categories Permission Explorer: CALL_PHONE
Permission Explorer (Source: Google Play; click images to enlarge)

As you can see, this app allows browsing by category, and nicely lists up all installed apps with a given permission. You can most likely skip system apps here, then see what's left and re-check playstore comments on suspicious apps. I also recommend checking on AppBrain, as they often point out malicious apps: Use their search page and see if the result for your app is "minimized", which already is one indicator. Also a good idea: try AppBrain Ad Detector, which does the same for apps on your device:

AppBrain Ad Detector AppBrain Ad Detector
AppBrain Ad Detector (Source: Google Play; click images to enlarge)

Additional benefit of this app: it automatically alerts you when you install an app with suspicious permissions ("Live Detection Mode" triggers on app install).

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  • Thanks for the info. I will double check with my provider to see if they have any call logs that I can't account for and will certainly go through my apps and their permissions. – farraman Sep 17 '13 at 23:02
  • Good ideas both. I will just update my answer to include some helpers for the latter. – Izzy Sep 18 '13 at 6:00
  • Great ideas, Permission Explorer looks promising. I'm sure what's happening in my case is a non-issue, but it helps to be sure. I was just wondering if it was possible for an app to do so. – farraman Sep 18 '13 at 15:50
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    Why is the WRITE_CALL_LOG permission even given out as a permission for developers to exploit? Is there a real use case for it? – Munim Sep 25 '13 at 11:09
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    @Munim sure there is. Think about a "Call Prefixer" (which adds a prefix to e.g. place an "incognito call"). You don't want that prefix in your list, maybe. So the "Prefixer" needs to rewrite that entry. – Izzy Sep 25 '13 at 11:43

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