Do phone companies keep track of incoming numbers?

I keep getting pestering calls for wrong telephone numbers–non threatening, just a nuisance–and today I asked the phone company if they could tell me who keeps calling me accidentally. The phone company said “we do not keep a log of incoming numbers.”

In most any detective television show I’ve ever seen, the police go to the phone company and get a log of all the incoming calls of a suspect. I don’t have caller ID and *69 doesn’t work for some reason. My question is this: is the phone company telling the truth about not keeping numbers, or are they just lazy?

At least in some areas victims of harassing calls can use a “star 57” (*57) call trace–after receiving a threatening call, you hang up, then dial *57, and the phone company logs a record of the call. I believe this will get around many of the things which defeat the conventional *69 call back; however, you don’t receive the information yourself–a record is made at the phone company, which then turns the information over to the police. This service is really intended for threatening calls, which you say these aren’t, so I imagine The Authorities might take a dim view of your using it under the circumstances, but it’s something to keep in mind in case you ever get a death threat.

Thanks, MEB, but that doesn’t exactly answer my OP.

As a general rule, do the local telephone companies keep an internal record of all incoming calls for each of their customers?

Depends on whether it is a local call or not.

For billing purposes, all long-distance calls, whether incoming or outgoing, are tracked and billed. (Just not neccessarily to you. If pressed, I can explain the exciting world of inter-telco billing to you, but I would have to be pressed hard.)

Practically speaking, local calls are not. Maaaaaan, think of the size of the database :eek:!!! The guys in the Central Office also told me that they don’t know of a single telco in North America that does track incoming local calls, but apparently the Brits do.

Oh, and that’s for straight conventional residential phones. Cell phones, on the other hand, record all incoming, outgoing calls whether they are local or not. Gotta bill you for your air time, after all. Business phones, you might be able to get a PABX box that would do it…

Depending on what telco you are dealing with, they may or may not be helpful with this issue. Most, if not all, of the larger service providers will insist on the *57 and going through your local gendarmerie or cop shop route.

Ours…officially, for the public, see above. [sub]IRL, since we’re a small provider and know many of our customers, we can occasionally be ummm convinced to be of assistance.[/sub]

Detective shows…hmmphhh. Betcha it’s the same show that has Windows NT running on an iMac.


At least in IL Americtech (now SBC I think) does. This information is available for supeona but not for general usage.

The phone company’s answer to most nuisence calls is to change YOUR number.

Local calls IIRC are recorded in Britain since they’re so damn expensive, essentially for the same reasons long distance ones are here.

So get yourself Caller ID…but, if these callers are dialing wrong, how is it going to help you to know they’re phone numbers? When I get a wrong number call, I ask the caller what number they want (I don’t want to give them my number) – it’s always a case of mis-dialing – off by one digit. I find the caller appreciates knowing what happened. But if this is happening to you a lot, maybe you’ve got a phone number that used to belong to a store or something. That happened to me once also. Talk to the caller and see if you can find out what’s going on.

On some cop shows, most notably “Law & Order,” one of the detectives will, at least once per episode (altho’ not so far tonite) will say, “We pulled his LUDS, and he placed 18 calls to 555-xxxx between 8 and 9 pm on the night of the murder.” On L&O they pull LUDS for residential phones and pay phones.

What are LUDS (an acronym for …)?
Do they really exist? From Markxxx, it sounds like what the OP is about?

I’ve been told of a device called a Digital Trap. It records all incoming phone numbers, as they pass through the local phone companie’s switches. Yeah yeah, fibre-optic this and that… the data STILL flows through a local phone company office. And, can be recorded. By a locked box. That is controlled by the local police. If you are being harassed or threatened, you can ask for the police to request a Digital Trap box.

You may not have access, but if you tell them WHEN you got calls threatening you and your loved ones, they will, without doubt, know who called.

So I’ve been told. And, Here for your educational edification is an article. It’s mostly about cellular phones and privacy and wiretaps, but mention IS made of digital traps. Maybe it’s not all Urban Legend… :smiley:


When I was the PBX manager at a downtown Chicago hotel we used LUD to mean “Local Usage Detail”

But I’ve also heard LUD mean Land Use Designation. Referring to cell phone etc…

I think the first is correct.

BTW I don’t know if this is the case but whenever I wanted to change my phone number I told Ameritech I was receiving harrassing calls and they changed it for free.

When I was working as a receptionist/phone operator (about 10 years or so ago), I learned a few things.

  1. There are phone systems that will record incoming as well as outgoing calls. This was to ensure that employees weren’t receiving personal calls at work.

  2. If you have some jerk making harrassing phone calls, you can block the number. I’ve had to do this because someone gave my number out to an ex-boyfriend of hers, and he called me looking for the number of his brother who was in hospital at the time. I had no idea who any of these people were. I simply blocked that number and the problem is solved.

  3. Most telcos will work with you if you’re having problems with harrassing calls. Some years ago, after my son died, I was besieged with phone calls, and I couldn’t screen every call. Bell Atlantic hooked me up with one of those deals where a second (unlisted) number with a special ring was added to the line. This way I could give that out to family and friends I wanted to talk to, and not have to deal with people I didn’t.