For months, Shira Barlow’s cell phone was flooded with wrong-number calls and text messages, mostly between 2 and 4 a.m. on weekends. Told they had reached a college student, callers refused to believe it.
Barlow’s story began on Valentine’s Day during a night out with friends. She was carrying her phone in a back pocket when it fell into a toilet. When she replaced it, her wireless company insisted on assigning the San Francisco native a new number with a 310 area code rather than 415.
Barlow had been given a recycled phone number that used to be Hilton’s. The practice stems from efforts to conserve phone numbers to minimize area-code splitting.
Just after Barlow got her new phone close to Hilton’s February 17 birthday, a flurry of calls and texts arrived. “Oh my God,” one caller said. “Where’s the party?”