According to private investigator and author Steven Kerry Brown, there are a number of ways to track private calls on a mobile phone. These techniques involve a combination of technology, persistence, a certain amount of cleverness and guile, and a willingness to involve the police if the situation warrants it.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- ANI-equipped inward WATS account (optional)
- TrapCall account (optional)
Start a log of all the calls for which you need the phone number but can't obtain it. Include the date, time of day and content of the conversation (especially if you're battling a nuisance or prank caller). This will help you identify the proper phone numbers when you can obtain access to your phone bill or a trace log.
Use the "call return" function on your phone. Dial 1471. Phone companies in the UK may allow you to call back a private number by simply dialling 1471. In the US this is usually 69. It may not identify the last phone number dialled, but it may dial it for you. It's worth trying, but it probably won't work for an unlisted number or if the caller blocked his caller ID before calling you.
Call the phone company and ask to speak to someone about nuisance calls. Ask the representative to whom you are speaking to start a "trace log." You won't be allowed to view it directly, but the police can, and it can provide crucial evidence should you decide later to press charges against the nuisance caller. Most phone companies offer services such as call block, call rejection, call trap or call screening. In most cases it will cost you an extra £2.50 or more each month.
Employ a private investigator who can tie your cell phone to a trap line, known as an automatic number identification (ANI) line, originally developed for 999 call centres and telemarketers. Using this type of line, a caller's information can be read even if he attempts to block it.
Sign up for a third-party trap line service such as TrapCall or Tel-Scan (See Resources). These services cost anywhere from £3.20 to £18.80 per month, depending on features, as of 2012.
Call the police if you're dealing with a harasser who won't stop. Usually, once the police have figured out who is harassing you (using the phone log discussed in Step 1), they will next pay the person a visit to let him know he has been identified and needs to stop harassing you. If he refuses to stop, you can prosecute.
Tips and warnings
- Bill collectors and private investigators skip trace "missing" people by sending their relatives postcards offering the "skip" cash rewards or free vacations, tempting them to call their "800" numbers. The "skip" reveals his location when he dials the number, which is connected to the PI's trap line.
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