Who is calling your phone or your child's? Pranksters use a lot of tricks to make sure they can get on your nerves. Being able to trace prank calls is important because you're not going to learn much from your Caller ID, since most prank callers use an unlisted number - such as, a cell phone number. Many also use special code *67 to mask the number so your Caller ID will show "Blocked Number" or "Private Number".
There are a lot of mild cases of so-called phone bullying which can be easily handled by using the steps described below. But if things turn to the worse, like in the case of this Washington's family, you may end being one on one with the bullies and even the police won't be able to help you track them down.
Step 1 Check the Number's Originis
If the number that keeps calling you pops up on your Caller ID, you can check its registered location, service provider and line type by doing a phone reverse lookup. To further find out to whom the number may belong, you can type it into Google, Facebook, public Yellow Pages. You can use a few private directories to carry out a mini investigation on the phone owner. Debt collectors, telemarketers and solicitors usually call from toll free numbers and they call many people - not just you, so someone somewhere has already posted information about that number. Sites such as 800notes.com and WhoCalled are two great complaint boards containing many land line numbers of pesky callers.
Private reverse directories do charge access fees but most of them operate full refund guarantees if they cannot locate any information about an unpublished number.
Step 2 Take a Different Route
If the above step produced no results, you are ready to take another action - contact the police or a private detective. In the case of sensitive issues or mild pranks, you may feel like you don't want to engage the police in your situation so a better alternative is to contact a private investigation agency. While fees are usually high and vary in the range of $50-$100, there is a higher chance of the number being traced accurately through the agency's connections with law enforcement. More serious cases which especially involve underage children, have to be reported to the police.
Step 3 Unmasking the Number
In most cases pranksters go long ways to block their outgoing numbers so you do not have any information at all about the call. They also use computer generated voice to make sure you do not get any clue about the person who is behind this. Unblocking the number is possible in two ways. One way to trace phone calls is by using a service provided by the majority of telephone providers. The service, known as Call Trace, is easy to use. When you receive a prank call, you immediately hang up on the caller. After a minute, pick the receiver back up to make sure the line is clear (you'll hear the dial tone again), then press *57.
One problem with this approach is the number or name of the caller won't be given to you. Even though the prankster has violated your privacy and the peacefulness of your home, the telephone provider is not allowed to violate their privacy by letting you know who the culprit is. If the calls persist, the provider will turn over the information to the police but never to you. Also, this method may not always work for cell phones.
Telephone companies offer another service known as Last Call Return. When you get a call, you can hit *69 and you'll get the last number that called your phone. You can then use phone reverse search to track down the caller and his or her address. This method, as well, may not always work for cell phone numbers.
If you use a cell phone, try this little trick. Log on to your cell phone web account that lists all the numbers that called your mobile phone. Blocked numbers often appear in these records unmasked. So, by checking the records against the exact time when you received the call from an unknown number, you may well see the number that appeared as Blocked on your Caller ID.
You can also try toll free number forwarding which allows to unblock blocked numbers via forwarding calls to a toll free number. The working trick here is that numbers cannot be masked when calling a toll free number. You can set the forwarding yourself by acquiring a cheap toll free number or you can use a service like TrapCall to do the job for you.
- "Phone spoofing is the practice of causing the telephone network to display a number on the recipient's Caller ID that is not that of the actual originating station (sometimes the number may appear to be your own)." Wikipedia. This means that your phone has been hacked and you need to change it and take precautionary measures. A hacker could have broken into your cell phone account online or hacked the software of the cell phone provider to spoof your phone. You will need to change your phone, get a new number and account and keep it confidential. Also take the old phone to the police to check.
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