I Am Not Betty, And I Can't Do Anything About It

I Am Not Betty, And I Can't Do Anything About It

At some point around 2016, a person named Betty, in the town I used to live in, gave my phone number to someone (either by accident or a random number), and it became associated with her name and address.

Her home sits atop a giant gas field, and she gets a nice royalty check. Why do I know this? Because since then, I have received over a thousand texts (I gave up counting) and innumerable phone calls like "Betty, have you considered selling your house?" I know where the house is, and it is nothing special; the only reason to buy it is for the checks.

Most of the calls were from different numbers, though sometimes the callers became desperate and called or texted repeatedly, often pleading for a response. Even on the rare occasion that I replied with "wrong number," they would respond by asking if I had anything else to sell. No one would ever reply with where they had received the information from.

A couple of years later, I began to get continuous calls and texts from politicians from both US parties. Most were far from where Betty lives; all were addressed to her, although a few were addressed to her spouse. Each one begged for a donation to keep some boogeyman from the opposite party away. Sometimes I would get multiple requests from people running against each other, and the most obnoxious ones included some pictures to emphasize their point.

There is absolutely nothing I can do about this except to replace my phone number, which is painful as I can't even remember all the places that now have it (at least the ones I care about), and altering what amounts to part of your identity is difficult.

I believe the original record connecting my number to Betty's identity was available to others, maybe on some public or internet database or sold by a data broker as a "good" phone number. Over time, like a rampaging virus, it multiplied into a myriad of databases, all easily available to anyone who desired to talk to Betty. I know the address, but even if I wrote Betty a letter, I doubt she can correct the problem now.

Our modern, highly interconnected society has some issues when information that is not true becomes part of reality. In this case, it is mostly annoying since only my phone number has been hijacked and mixed up with Betty's address and name. This is not exactly identity theft but a blending of identities that provides zero benefits to anyone. I get irritating texts and calls, and the wielders of this information get nothing.

I imagine Betty sitting on her porch, collecting her gas royalties, enjoying a peaceful time without anyone contacting her. Meanwhile, an army of people is communicating with me, desperate to get a response and wondering what kind of person fails to respond to such energetic requests.

Sometimes I wonder if I could set up an AI Bot to automatically reply to each request with something pithy and hope that is enough to stop them forever. Still, many of these folks have no connection to any other, so that is unlikely to help, even if it might provide some fun. In the end, there is no point in trying. I should give in, get a new number, and leave all those admirers of Betty to wallow in disappointment.

I am not Betty.