by Valerie McGilvrey
Sometimes all that I’ve located on a skip is a cell phone number. While collection laws prohibit calling cell phones to attempt to speak to a debtor, of course, there are many other ways to get information from a cell phone number. Our society has evolved into a digital world that is constantly on the move. Having a land line phone is not only a waste of money, in these times, it’s more of an inconvenience.
Talk, text and web offered in unlimited prepaid deals with really nicely designed cell phones have dazzled even the least tech-savvy individual. Because of this; cell phones are it. I devote much of my time to seek out new ways to spin on old tricks that get me location information. I ask questions and always get lots of factual information mixed in with heavy opinion.
In my step by step process I use databases, some free and some paid to get as much data collected as I can before I give up and get a professional cell phone investigation done. The companies that do cell phone investigations never reveal the source of how the information is obtained. By pretexting and a subpoena perhaps? Or they just “know” someone that can provide information. I often wonder if my databases can’t find it exactly how would the other investigators get that account owners name and billing address. If I’ve discovered a land line I need the service address too. I can only speculate because I know what I do and what I do works most of the time.
Does the skip have a direct connection with that cell phone company? So many times I’ve run down a cell phone number to find the account in another person’s name. This just gives me another person to look for that’s connected to my skip. By using the White Pages smart phone app (monthly subscription) I get every person’s name and sometimes an address that’s been connected to that phone number. This is a search that is nearly nonexistent on the internet anywhere else outside of professional skip trace databases.
Is the process to discover the cell information legal? If you’re using a database that you’ve been credentialed for a subscription then yes, you’re good to use it to bust cell phone number. Your permissible purpose has been verified. You know your boundaries for the work that you’re doing. Professionals keep it professional. We all know hacking to get detailed call lists is not only a crime, but sometimes a complete wast of time. If you’re involved in a lawsuit you can subpoena these records and if you’re on the front end of a contract you can request the detailed call history as a part of the required documents.
Where am I finding cell phone numbers? On credit reports and SkipSmasher. These sources have amazing and fresh information. This is the kind of thing that makes you joyfully yell glorious things at your computer screen. If you don’t have these two data providers get the ball on the roll. You’ll be so happy that you did. Each database has some very unique features and it pays to have more than one.
Here is a short list of what I do when I bust a cell phone number (or any phone number) for someone who I am trying to locate:
I place a spoof call to myself by using the target phone number as my outgoing caller ID number and then call my trapline (Ureach.com) or my TrapCall enabled cell phone. Some spoof companies won’t allow you to call a toll free number making Trapcall the only way to go for this trick reverse engineering caller ID. I get the best results by calling a land line but if there’s an address associated with the phone number it will be noted on your online account or texted to you if you’ve set your account up to receive texts.
This site has been up for many years and very trust worthy. Fonefinder is free and I have even spotted police investigators using it on their desktop computers on true-crime shows.
This search will tell you the name of the service provider for the phone number and let you know if you have a cell phone or a land line. It also has a link to click through to the carriers website.
TNID.us [Currently this site is down. White Pages is a good alternate, I use the app on my cell phone.]
When I discovered this free database, I was totally floored. The accuracy of getting caller ID information, if it’s available, is very good. I ran some phone numbers of family members and my own, to get a feel of how fresh the data is, and I was amazed with the results. The reliability of the accuracy, on a scale of 1 to 10 would be a 7. Because of the volume of cell phone users and the portability of phone numbers, I would think that only a subpoena would give accurate and up to date cell phone owner information.
When I ran a phone number that I ported to a $30.00 a year Magic Jack it gave my present name and not the name of my former husband who actually had the last account in his name. Somewhere I used this phone number to sign up for BestBuy or some other preferred shopper card because this is the throwaway phone number that I used just for that purpose. So, this tells me that it’s a good resource and is somewhat current-even for investigating elusive VoIP numbers.
Yes, run your phone numbers with dashes and no names through all your favorite search engines. You’ll find that sometimes a phone number will be given in classified ads, resume’s online or other instances where you would advertise a phone number. I have even found that pages come up with links to social media where the owner says, “Here is my new number, hit me up!” Have you Googled your own phone number lately?
When you run your phone numbers through your favorite databases notice if you get a zip+4 number, even if there is no other information attached. Remember that databases update at different times with sources from different places. It is possible that this is the account holder’s actual zip+4 number, which will narrow your search to about ten front doors on one side (even or odd) of the street. This is my favorite search that has made many repo men in my life very happy.
A search that I do in a process of elimination, is to go to Melissadata and get the range of addresses for that zip+4. I take this information to Google Street-view and look to see if there are any vacant lots with phone company buildings on them. If there is a phone junction there, the zip+4 will be for that. If all you see are apartment houses or rows of driveways and mailboxes, then you may have just found your lead. At the very least you’ll have found the telephone switch for the phone you’re investigating.
The USPS website may also tell you what the name of the apartment complex by doing a zip code search. Apartments with hundreds of units have addresses that span one or two blocks. Unless your driving down that street you may never know. The other move is just to simply call apartment complexes and ask if that address is a part of their property.
My book, Skip Trace Secrets, reveals my tried and true skip trace tips live links to all my favorite databases, paid and free. I have included live links that take you directly to those sites that I prefer to use. Those are the ones that help me get my paycheck.
Note to collections agencies: SkipSmasher is not approving accounts for collection agencies but are open to repossession agencies. Keep your eye on them though, innovations may bring you a very sharp product for your industry in the future.