The Phone Trap

Trapline Phone Service

And one day it happened, without any notice, causing an upheaval in my regular cell phone routine. Apple quietly changed all the rules that applied to iPhone caller ID lingo and left me in the lurch while juggling Starbucks, an armload of mail, and an UNAVAILABLE incoming call.

I never pay any mind to unavailable calls because they’re usually robo-calls initiated by telemarketing companies. If someone anticipates a service repair call or appointment reminder then the average cell phone user could answer this type of call, which I carelessly did. A valuable opportunity lost forever and an avoidable situation had I known that the UNAVAILABLE caller ID was actually blocked.

Trapped predictive dialer calls will show as 999-999-9999. Also it’s good to know that these programs will display any phone number that the user sets. So when you receive a phone call and return it only to hear that the phone number isn’t in service, it’s either a predictive dialer with an old number or a scammer deliberately using a fictitious phone number to shield its true identity.

I’ve been a faithful user of Trapcall in years past. but something with the iPhone 6 release made their reliable service completely wipe out my voice mail allowing callers to hear that my phone, “can’t be reached at this moment.” Two weeks into the malfunction I simply gave up the service and moved to a toll-free provider which routes all calls to a chosen number.

Toll free numbers have always been trap lines.

A very quick fix made me realize that most folks in our line of work don’t realize exactly how toll-free numbers work and why.

How: toll-free numbers don’t allow blocked incoming calls.
Why: the U.S. Government says that toll-free number owners who pay per-minute tolls have the right to  see the incoming call data.

Another very interesting bit of information here is that no call spoofing software will work to spoof a phone number to a toll-free number. I’ve read other investigators write instructional chapters on using this strategy to carry out an investigative pretext. Apparently those author’s have never actually tried to test the theory themselves because it’s impossible. It simply won’t work.

Trapcall works by using conditional call forwarding (CCF). These codes can be obtained with your cell phone carrier.  Using the same method of forwarding your home number to another phone line, you’ll dial some codes that tell the phone company provides to you (nearly all cell companies have different codes) to only forward the phone call if you reject it, miss it completely or if your phone is turned off. Your phone company can help you set up CCF.

A few toll-free number providers to consider for trapline phone service are and


Copyright © Valerie McGilvrey, The Daily Skip

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