Finding out where a cell call is coming from
February 5, 2013 2:25 PM   Subscribe

I have been getting annoying and possilby disturbing calls from an old friend. I looked up the number and it's registered as a cell phone with an out of state area code. However, since it is a cell, the person could still be placing those calls from the local area. I called my phone provider and unsuprisingly, they couldn't help. Is there another way to find out the physical location of the caller?
posted by youdontmakefriendswithsalad to Technology (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're worried that this person might hurt you you could get a restraining order. Presumably then the police could get the cell company to give them a location, but maybe that only works on tv. You could also just block his/her number so that you don't get any more calls.
posted by mareli at 2:29 PM on February 5, 2013

You probably cannot get this info without a subpoena or other request from a government agency. It is against the law for phone companies to provide this kind of information on their customers.
posted by soelo at 4:01 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's always the "Find My Friends" app -- but he/she would have to install it and state that it was OK for you to monitor his/her whereabouts. It's very accurate, though.

The reverse lookups don't work for cell phones.
posted by Ostara at 4:14 PM on February 5, 2013

First, if these are voice mails, save them. If they are phone calls, record them. If you can recognize the incoming call, don't answer them. Document, document, document.

Report the calls to the local police. I had a similar situation but with email. I knew the person's known address was 1,000 miles away. My local police agreed to do three things. No restraining order or any other legal action compelled them to do them. One, they called the local cops to where this person lived to find out anything they could about him, and to have someone confirm he was still living at that address and was actually in town. Two, they put my address on some sort of list that got me additional drive-bys and additional scrutiny. So much so that one night when I had a relative with out of state plates in my driveway, they came and rang the bell to do a wellness type check. That was comforting. Three, after an additional email, they had local social services stop by to question him to see if they needed to commit him or otherwise take any action. (Because of HIPPA, I do not know the result of that visit except to say that I know he was not committed.)

I would also alter your daily routine. If you normally leave your house at a set time and take a set route to work, change the time to earlier, then later, then whenever, but don't be too predictable or consistent. Change your route. If you take mass transit, alter the stop you get on. Consider getting off at a different stop too. If you drive to work, alter your route too. Never stop at a light or stop sign so close to the car in front of you that you cannot pull around them if you are in a threatened situation. If you think you are being followed, drive to the nearest police station. Be aware of your surroundings. Every place, everywhere you go, scan around for a plan of action. It may be an escape route, it may be the person you plan to contact, it may be a place to duck into to avoid this person.

While I would not tell your child about this specific event(s), I would have a talk about security and not going with strangers or if someone approaches you what to do, etc. I would also consider telling your child's school that under no circumstances was your child to be released to anyone but you or if your ex picks him up some days, him. I actually had a joint meeting with the principal of my kid's school and the local police chief. I gave them both a picture of the person we were concerned about.

Your situation is a little complicated by having an ex. I too have an ex. I sat down with her and gave her a full briefing on the situation and discussed with her both her safety and our children's. I did not have a significant other at the time so telling that person was not an issue, but you should consider talking with him. Have a code word to use with him if you are in distress and one if everything is ok.

Let your family and friends know there is an issue with this person. They may not know especially if it is a former friend. They may inadvertently give out your location thinking they are helping you. Let them know that this person is not a friend but a potentially dangerous foe.

I am not trying to scare you. These are all steps I was advised to take in my situation. I took additional steps that I will not list here. I would take this seriously. If it turns out you are over reacting, you can always dial down your threat level and your actions. It may be an over worn "joke" by now, but just because you are or act paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you. Safety first.

I think your instincts to want to know where this person is are good, but you cannot do this on your own.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:52 PM on February 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

you're sure that its an old friend who's doing this to you?
(did you betray, or reject someone in the past. do you have a list of former friends who are suspects.)
is this happening on a smart phone? there's app's that can easily screen stuff out for you, probably someone that would let you record phone calls too (smart phones are easily customized to your liking - thanks to 21st century technology.) Mr. Number is a good app.

Are you scared? does this person seem truly threatening or maybe just someone who wants to screw with you? You could try a reverse cell phone search , use *57 (costs $1 per use, FYI) to trace/report (but when I've used that before, it didn't give me the person's number.)
posted by superuser at 8:55 AM on February 15, 2013

« Older Mechanic filter: 1993 Honda del Sol sometimes...   |   Restaurant recommendations in/near Gilbert, AZ? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.