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In the old days, crossed lines were quite common. People could hear their neighbors chatting from their home phones. While crossed phone numbers can happen today with cell phones, it’s very rare.

AdobeStock_83279136 Finger touch number on smartphone to make a call, close up

What Does It Mean When Phone Lines are Crossed?

A crossed phone line refers to a problem when one person picks up calls belonging to another. You have a small risk of picking up other calls when you use a cell phone.

For example, you might hear someone trying to make an appointment with their doctor or someone trying to order a pizza. The other type of crossed line occurs when you reach someone you didn’t call. You might call your sibling and reach someone in a different city or state.

How Do Numbers Get Crossed?

Numbers and calls get crossed differently, but most problems occur due to radio waves. Cell phones rely on the towers that carriers set up. The towers use radio waves to connect phones. You might have a crossed number if you are in the right spot.

A right spot is a place close to two towers that use different signals or radio saves. While you might clearly hear someone talking, you’ll often hear random sounds rather than the person’s voice.

Digital Problems

As cell phones use digital signals today, crossed numbers are rarer but still happen. Every time you use a cell phone to make a phone call, it needs to match another number. This pairing is what lets you talk to a loved one or your utility company.

The problem is that digital signals can have bugs running loose that pair your phone to a different phone than the one you called. You’ll usually hear some static on the line or beeping noises when this happens.

Call Forwarding

Call forwarding is a great feature because it lets you direct calls from one number to another one. Let’s say you decide to work from home and don’t want to spend all day calling the office to check your messages.

With call forwarding, you can send all of your calls to your cell phone or landline. Crossed phone numbers are common with call forwarding, especially when you forward calls from a landline to a cell phone. The feature can lose connection and direct your calls to another number while sending calls from another number to you.

Is There Anything I Can Do About It?

Yes, you can take care of crossed phone lines and numbers. Start with a call to your carrier and then try some other useful tips.

1. Reach Out to Your Carrier

Call your carrier when you notice an issue with crossed phone lines. In most cases, they will assign you a tech who will go over the problem. The tech will walk you through the troubleshooting process to see if you can fix the problem at home.

You may need to change your network connection and settings or update your phone and restart it. If you still have problems, the tech can investigate their network and see if other customers shared your experience.

2. Change Your Settings

You can try changing your settings, too. This step works well if you have two of the same phones or phones from the same brand and use them on different lines, especially if you’re an iPhone user. Turn on your iPhone and go to “Settings” and then “Cellular.” Click “Calls on Other Devices” and then “Allow Calls on Other Devices.”

Pick the phone that you want to use when making and receiving calls. This should stop your other iPhones from receiving calls sent to your primary phone and direct those calls to iCloud. You can change the Cellular data on Android phones to choose which ones can make and receive calls.

3. Verify the Numbers You Call

Have you ever changed your phone number and forgotten to tell some of the people in your life? Even if you call someone who had the same number for years, there’s no guarantee that they will always have that number.

Always double-check and verify the number if you call someone and get a different person. Give the person on the other end of the line the number and see if it matches the one they had. You may find that you hit one or more wrong numbers when you dialed or that your friend changed their number.

AdobeStock_188717574 Man with mobile phone and laptop in office

Can Texts Be Crossed?

Crossed text messages are even rarer than crossed phone lines but do happen. They usually occur in situations where the sender goes over their character limit. You cannot send a text message with more than 160 characters.

The characters include any letters, numbers, or symbols you used in the message and emojis or emoticons. Most modern cell phones will break the message into different parts. Instead of sending the whole message, they send the first 160 characters in one message and the rest of the characters in others.

One of the common problems reported online by cell phone users is that only the recipient gets the crossed message. You might write a long text message and send it to your friend.

While your phone shows the exact characters you used, their phone can get a message that misses some of the characters or replaces the characters with others. Another issue is delayed messages. This happens when you send a message but the person does not receive it until hours or days later.

iPhone and Double Messages

If you and another person in your home both have iPhones, you may have a problem with double messages. This is when two or more users of these phones get the same messages. It usually only happens after you update your phone and use iMessage.

The other iPhone user will get the same message when someone tries to send you a message. You’ll also get a copy of any message sent to their iPhone. To fix this, go to your Settings and Messages. Look under the Send and Receive section. Change this section to include only your email address and phone number. Then do the same thing on the other iPhone.

Spoofed Messages

You may receive some spoofed text messages, too. This is a text that comes from someone using a number you know. The sender can appear on your phone under the name of a friend or family member.

A sender will often ask simple questions to see if you fall for their scam and then slowly attempt to get you to different things such as sending them money to help with an unexpected bill or claiming they have an emergency such as getting arrested.

Spoofed texts can make it seem like you get crossed messages, too. With this scam, the sender will call you by a different name and apologize. They keep trying to talk to you in an attempt to make you fall for a scam.

Many of these scams claim that you can earn a lot of money on a crypto website or that you can buy cheap products from another site. If you think you received a spoofed message, contact the owner of the number.


While some claim that crossed phone numbers are impossible with digital signals and cell phones, cell phones can have crossed phone numbers and lines and text messages. Get in touch with your carrier to talk about the problems you found and see what they recommend. You can fix crossed phone numbers to avoid hassles in the future.