How to detect the REAL calling phone number?

Let’s assume I have been receiving unwanted phone calls on a regular basis. While CID (Caller ID) is not reliable for learning the source, there is another scheme called ANI, where numbers are passed internally thru the phone system for billing purposes.

If I wanted to find out the true source of my unwanted calls, how can I get access to the ANI data? What is needed to get the phone company to install a Trap and Trace Device and for me to be able to access the captured data?

And can ANI be deliberately defeated by the caller (using VOIP or something else)?

You’d need a court order to get your phone company to tell you what they know. If the origin is at a different phone company, at best they’ll be able to tell you what company it came through to arrive at them. If the origin is in another country you may be out of luck (unless some serious crime is involved).

Assuming the calls are coming from domestic USA, if a government agency, say the FTC or FBI, wanted to shut down phone spammers, they (unlike me) wouldn’t have all that difficult a time finding out the source, right? Or can such sources disguise their origin through multiple layers so tracing is absolutely impossible?

*57 might help you. Note that you don’t get to know the traced number even if it works; it just records it to make it easier for you to make a complaint later.

I wonder just how foolproof that is? And I assume the *57 service must be subscribed to in advance of need? At what cost?

According to my state’s Attorney General (or his deputy), there is no way of tracing a call if the caller prepares in advance to prevent it. Either the AG is wrong, or the wool is being pulled over his eyes and he doesn’t want to tackle the problem.

I got a similar response from the FTC – we will take your complaint(s), but there’s nothing we can do about it, and we don’t plan to try.

You could try dialing *69 immediately after the call. It may give you the correct number and even dial it. Possibly you’d recognize the voice if the calls are from someone that you know. It’s not free; something like 50 cents each time.

*69 uses CID for its data source, which can be blocked by the caller. If the CID is spoofed, the number returned by *69 is the same, spoofed number, which either cannot be dialed, or will dial the wrong party, often someone who has no idea what’s going on, and has no connection with the spammers.

*69 return calls are free with my calling package, but they aren’t the solution here.

9-1-1 centers receive ANI information and do not rely on Caller ID though we cannot generally access that data for calls not made directly to 9-1-1.

Law enforcement may be able to use contacts with the telecom provider to access that ANI data in limited circumstances.

This brings up the more obvious question. Is there a way to block calls on a landline (be they spoofed or otherwise)? On my iPhone when I get the inevitable “Rachel from cardholder services” spam call, I just block the number, and it at least forces them to use a new fake number each time, which is a pain for them. But I still get multiple phony calls during the day at home that I erase from the answering machine. I’d rather get none, and I would think the phone company would have an incentive to not be routing these phony calls either and tying up their equipment.

Let’s start with:

B. No, the phone companies make money off them. So direct disincentive to stop them.

A. If you have certain types of “landline” service, you can use Nomorobo. If you have VoIP phone service or similar, sign up for this now. It’s great.

There are many ways to block specific calls on landlines or otherwise.

But I don’t want to block anybody. I want to find 'em, fuck 'em, prosecute 'em, put their sorry asses in jail, and forget 'em. But I can’t find 'em and the state and feds say they are powerless.

Why not just block? Because too many unfortunate people are misled and lose money. If a burglar breaks into my home and steals cash or property, I would do my best to divert their fate to Ye Olde Lockup. Why should this be any different?

Bolding mine.

Not even a little bit. Rachel has recently started using faked numbers from the same area as the person they’re calling.

So if Rachel’s computer is calling somebody at 234-567-8910 it’ll fake the caller id as 234-567-#### where #### is a 4-digit random number. Next time it calls the same target it’ll pick a different 4 digit random number. They don’t need to own any of these fake numbers. it’s just data they send to the phone company as part of dialing their call to the target. By choosing a number similar to the target’s number they’re hoping to make it more likely that person will recognize the number and answer. Heck, it might be their kid’s friend’s Mom or something. Or the local pizza joint. Or so they hope you’ll think.

In fact, that random number almost certainly really does belong to somebody. Some random business or person who’s near you. Who has zero to do with Rachel.

By blocking that number you do nothing to slow down Rachel who’ll pick a different random number next time she dials you. All you’ve done is sabotage your own phone so it won’t receive calls from some legit people in your local area. The odds Rachel will pick a number that next week you want to talk to isn’t huge. But it isn’t zero either.

Blocking numbers worked 20 years ago when dialers didn’t generate random CIDs. Not anymore.

I use a device called the CPR V5000 Call Blocker on my land line. It comes pre-programmed with 5000 scam numbers to block plus you can program in 1,500 more. You can also block entire area codes such as 800, 866, and so on. If a number comes up on your Caller ID that you don’t ever want to talk to, there’s a big red button on the Call Blocker that will automatically add that number to the blocked list. I’ve had it for about a year and it’s blocked over 300 calls. With the USA elections coming up, I’m sure that it will block many more.

I use Charter Cable’s land-line telephone service and it has some limited ways of blocking some phone numbers, such as being able to block 12 numbers, but it’s not as powerful as the Call Blocker.

For my Android cell phone, I use the Call Control app. It does an even better job of blocking calls than the Call Blocker.

For checking out phone numbers to see if they are legit or not, I like

If they are calling from a country that doesn’t have any laws against robocalls, what exactly do you expect to happen? Drone strikes? Special ops raids?

VOIP is making things far too easy and cheap for these robo-marketers to operate from anywhere in the world. Making anonymous calls now isn’t much more difficult than sending email spam, but the conversion rate is a lot better!

If you really want to find out who’s behind the calls, buy whatever product/service they are offering. Then follow the money trail. Use a credit card and initiate a chargeback afterwards. If nothing else, it’ll cost them money.

Does the USA have laws against robocalls?

The bulk of the recent calls I get originate in the USA, if the accents (or lack of them) are any indication. I don’t think Pakistan imports many Midwesterners.

Sage advice.

If you have FiOS or any of many other modern phone systems you can use nomorobo. I went from two or three calls a day down to one or two slipping through per month. This is amazing since I can’t see why Rachel doesn’t just generate random numbers that nomorobo can’t do much about–she apparently doesn’t because I still hear the single-ring of a “nomorobo block” in action a couple of times a day, and I smile.

Catching them and torturing them with honey and fire ants? It’s like whack-a-mole, and I doubt the effort would be worth it.

Y’all need to check the OP. I am not looking to block anything. I am looking to ID them with the intention of prosecuting or shutting them down, or getting a government agency to act upon it. Blocking them is a futile gesture.

The reason why I want to ID them is a small percentage of their calls are received by the ignorant and naïve, who feed them sufficient money to continue the process. Not everyone is as savvy as we are. There are a lot of gullible people out there, and most of them are my elderly and trusting neighbors.

Just trying to help. Carry on.

We are all diminished by the experience. Well, half-diminished. :slight_smile:

The US & state law enforcement communities have pretty much decided that this is not a problem they’re willing to tackle. I don’t see how the OP can overcome that directly.

Perhaps if we / the OP can persuade enough citizens to become single-issue voters on the “stop spam and robocalls” issue we could make progress after replacing most of Congress and our respective statehouses.

Other than that, any individual action aimed at locating bad actors is tilting at windmills.
Hmmm … here a wild idea …

If the OP was an IT entrepreneur there is room to create something like nomorobo that is explicitly designed to capture enough traffic and keep stuffing automated complaints into the law enforcement community until they surrender to your firehose of complaints and add their pressure to the citizens’ pressure on the legislatures to act.