How to Trace a Telephone Call

By Maya Austen
Using the Internet to trace a telephone call.

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There are several reasons why you might want to trace a telephone call. If someone is calling your phone and hanging up or if you are receiving harassing or obscene phone calls, tracing the caller’s phone number can help you identify who the caller is and, if necessary, initiate legal action to put a stop to the unwanted calls. You can try to trace the telephone call yourself or seek the help of law enforcement.

Trace the Call Yourself

Purchase a telephone with a built-in caller ID display. Then set up the phone. Contact your telephone service provider to verify that caller ID service is included in your telephone service plan. If it’s not, order it. With caller ID service in place whenever anyone calls you from an unblocked telephone number, the phone number where they are calling from, as well as the name of the person the number is listed to, appears on your phone’s display.

Set up an anonymous caller block to reject blocked calls. This forces callers, calling from inside your local service area, who have blocked their caller information, to unblock their information before placing a call to you. To set up the anonymous caller ID block, contact your telephone service provider to verify that this service is included in your phone plan. If it’s not, order it. As long as the anonymous caller block feature is included in your service, typically all you need to do to set it up is dial *77 on your phone.

Dial 69 on your telephone, if for some reason, an incoming caller’s information doesn’t appear on the phone’s display. Dialing 69 will call your last incoming call. As the phone dials the telephone number, the number should appear on the phone’s display.

Select one of the online “Reverse Phone Lookup” tools offered in the Resources. Enter the phone number you want to trace in the appropriate box and submit the query. If the phone number you’re looking up is listed in the U.S. public phone directory, the results will show the owner of the telephone number along with their last known address.

Enter the phone number you want to trace in an Internet search engine. If the phone number you’re looking up is published somewhere on the web it may pop up in the search engine results. The web page where the number is published will likely reveal more detailed information about who the phone number is listed to.

Get Help from Law Enforcement

Contact your phone company to make sure “Call Trace” is included in your service package.

Answer the phone. If you determine that this is a call you want trace, hang up the phone then immediately pick it up again.

Listen for a dial tone. Dial *57.

Place the phone to your ear. You should hear a message stating that the call you just received was successfully traced, along with further instructions. The traced information is passed on to the phone company’s unlawful call bureau and is saved for a certain number of days. You’re not given access to this information. The information is only accessible to law enforcement.

Contact your local police department. Inform them that you want to file a complaint regarding harassing phone calls. A case file will be started. Ask the officer for the Police Case Number. The officer will follow up on the complaint by contacting your phone company’s unlawful call bureau and get back to you.

About the Author

Maya Austen began freelance writing in 2009. She has written for many online publications on a wide variety of topics ranging from physical fitness to amateur astronomy. She's also an author and e-book publisher. Austen has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the New England Institute of Art and currently lives in Boston, Mass.

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