Can anyone give me suggestions on how to trace a phone number to the name of the person who owns it?
My 16 year-old daughter received a harassing call with CallerID blocked on her iPhone; the caller was soliciting her for sex. She is a rape survivor and I suspect that the call is related to the rapist. I filed a request for Call Detail Records from her cellular provider, Page Plus Cellular, and expect to have the caller’s phone number in the next 1-2 weeks.
I’ve searched widely but found little authoritative information on how to trace a phone number—particularly a cellular service number—to a person’s name or even the carrier.
I realize that this question isn’t exactly an Apple-specific topic but there are a lot of smart people on this list and I hope that one of you can point me in a fruitful direction or at least to a more appropriate forum.
Thank you for indulging my off-topic post.
I posted this to obtain technical advice, not legal advice. For example:
- Experience usingTwilio to look up a phone number’s carrier;
- Other products or services that can query the way (cellular) phone calls are routed;
- Referrals to an expert on tracing (cellular) phone numbers; or
- Other forums where such things are discussed by experts.
Please limit your replies accordingly.
If you’d like to offer legal or other such advice, please private message me and I’m happy to give you my email address for an offline discussion.
Contact law enforcement. Abusive phone calls are criminal acts. And if the caller has a restraining order in place, the police may be able to bring additional charges against the caller.
Law enforcement can subpoena records from phone companies as a part of investigations leading to prosecution. They can also go further and find out who else the person has been calling.
In contrast, all you can do is ask for limited information, and you can only see what the network operator chooses to share with you.
In addition to Shamimo’s good advice, it’s also important NOT to delete any threatening or objectionable voice messages or texts that might be left on you daughter’s phone. If the harasser calls and hangs up when your daughter picks up the phone, or if he just breathes, that’s considered evidence as well. So is anything objectionable about her that might appear on social media.
The minimum evidence for your the police or your service provider to get involved in most areas in the US is three calls; more evidence is better. If she is getting abusive emails or texts, they would be important evidence as well. Any details of being followed, or surveillance of your home, is also important and should be included.
Your daughter has been suffering enough, it’s heartbreaking to read she’s also subject through the phone as well.
I did and they are. But this wasn’t just an “abusive” call. It was a call soliciting sex from a minor and the penalties here in Illinois can be quite severe.
The police encouraged me to get a “No Contact Order” and when I enquired about this with an attorney she said that without CallerID there was nothing to tie the call to any particular person. You can’t get an Order if you don’t know the person
Subpoenas require convincing a judge that there is probably cause that the person whose records are being subpoenaed committed a crime. There is no way to show probable cause without the phone number and proof that the number belongs to the person whose records are being subpoenaed.
However, no subpoena is required to obtain Call Detail Records of calls made or received on your own device.
Of course, once a subscriber can prove who called them and that the caller committed a crime, then presumably law enforcement could convince a judge to issue a subpoena for additional Call Detail Records for the perpetrator’s device.
FCC Regulations (47 C.F.R. §42.6) require telecommunication companies to make, retain, and permit the inspection of records for each connection. As I understand, each subscriber has a right to records about their own line/device. (Without such records, how could a carrier prove that they provided a service and compel a subscriber to pay?)
Firstly, so sorry your daughter and your family have endured this trauma. Appalling.
I presume the call was a once-off and there’s little point in using services which capture persistent offenders, TrapCall etc.
I would ask your lawyer whether they work with an investigator to do the due diligence on digging up this information you require, to ensure that you don’t inadvertently compromise what is found or the legal followups that are possible.
I retired from a 35-year career in the legacy telecom world. The process for tracing an individual call then was incredibly cumbersome and usually produced NO results. Since then, like battling spam, it has become a virtually futile endeavor. Telephony today is as etherial as one can imagine. Along with the GOOD improvements to the technology, “improvements” to its nefarious uses have kept pace. “Burner” phones, spoofing CallerID and forwarding are just three of the methods used by bad actors. Sadly, the only “reliable” course of action is to change the victim’s number. Good luck. I’m afraid you’re going to need it.
I’m the co-founder and CEO of a text messaging company - a great deal of our time is consumed by buying and managing phone numbers. I completely get your frustration. Unless there is some evidence on your daughter’s phone other than an “unknown” number you won’t get any real valuable information from what’s on her device of the detailed call records provided by the carrier.
One of the issues in even attempting to determine the number is that it’s so easy to spoof a number with third-party services or even via a cheap piece of equipment that even if you figure it out, it may not be a useful answer.
In short, fixing what happened in the past might be futile without significant legal action - and that is unlikely to occur unless there is a specific, actionable threat to the recipient.
What you can do to help going forward, though, would be to turn on the “Silence Unknown Callers” function on the iPhone. That will automatically send all callers whose contact info is not stored in the phone’s Contacts to voicemail where they would either disconnect or leave a voice message. If they disconnect, no harm is done and your daughter is not exposed to anything nefarious. If they leave a voice message it provides the authorities with at least a modicum of additional information (voice print matching, background noise identification, etc.) to help track the dirtbag that’s hassling your daughter.
It’s a terrible situation. I hope this helps even if just a small amount.
I have nothing useful to add, @nello, but I just wanted to express how sorry I am that your daughter and you have to deal with this. Thanks to those who have chimed in with words of support and advice—even if we can’t actually help, it’s nice to see the community rallying to the aid of a member.
To both Adam and everyone who responded, thank you very much for your support.
Today the Call Detail Records arrived.
While I still don’t know how to use to technology to connect a phone number to a person’s name, never underestimate the power of “social engineering”! Not surprisingly, the caller was only one degree of separation away from our daughter.
Thank you again.