If you use cell phone service from Cingular, Sprint or T-Mobile, you may be interested to know that anyone with Internet access and $80-$110 on a credit card can pull your phone records. All they need is your cell phone number.
The websites that allow this are: locatecell.com and celltolls.com. Iâ€™d been aware of locatecell for about a month but I hadnâ€™t decided whether or not to blog about it. Then I came across this story and knew I had to say something. These services work. Unfortunately.
You can find out more information on the AMERICA blog. This link takes you to the January archive page with many cell phone stories here. You just have to scroll a lot. Find stories on these days: 1/18, 1/17, 1/16, 1/14, 1/13 and 1/12 in which General Wesley Clarkâ€™s phone records were purchased (link in the above paragraph). Although there is discussion over Johnâ€™s (the blogger) cell phone records being stolen, that is a little different matter than the open selling of call records.
For direct links to what I consider to be the main cell phone stories, see below.
More on buying General Clarkâ€™s records
To join the fight against cell phone record-selling
More on Sprint
More on Cingular and their lawsuit against record-selling companies
This has been building for a while
More info on the whole issue
Although Cingular is taking the data companies selling phone records to court, they claim that such information is illegally accessed by the companies posing as Cingular customers. Nonsense. Itâ€™s much cheaper and simpler to just buy access to the records wholesale. Iâ€™m sure the big three companies decided to make a little extra profit by selling access to their customerâ€™s records.
If one canâ€™t think of any reasons why this is a bad thing, here are a few: Have you lived a perfectly clean and open life? Do you want strangers knowing your family’s phone numbers, possibly their home numbers? Do you want your business competitors to know your business contacts and client numbers?
If you look further at the services offered on these two sites (celltolls and locatecell), they also offer all sorts of very private information on landlines. There goes the advantage of having an unlisted number. At this point, anyone who gets a hold of any of your numbers can order your records. Knowing this doesnâ€™t make me feel very secure.
There arenâ€™t many solutions to this huge problem. The two most obvious options are to never let anyone you donâ€™t trust have your number (but you canâ€™t control what they might do with your number) and to keep separate phones for personal and business use. Never make personal calls from your business phone (and vice versa).
Keep several separate, throwaway phones. One for business (if you can), one for personal use, one for truly private use (if you need). If youâ€™re a married man who misbehaves, your wife no longer needs to hire a private investigator. She just needs your phone number. If she doesnâ€™t know the phone exists, she canâ€™t buy the records for that number. (A TracFone will work as your very private phone. It doesnâ€™t require any invasive information to register.)
If you use throwaway phones, get new ones (and new numbers) every year.
Never EVER list your numbers on the Internet again (escorts should pay attention to this one). List a voicemail box, list a beeper that you always keep with you, list an 800 number. Donâ€™t make calls from any of these numbers. Collect your messages and make your calls from a different number.
Use throwaway calling cards for outgoing, landline calls. Make sure the landline doesnâ€™t have any of your personal information attached to it (i.e. get someone else to sign up for you but you pay the bills). However, you canâ€™t escape the fact that a landline requires the correct physical address for the service.
Use one number at one company for personal use and pick another company/number for business use. The idea is separation of your personal and business lives, although the records are still for sale (at this time).
Start using VOIP. I havenâ€™t looked into this much but it might really be a good option, especially if your landline phone and Internet connection are registered in a name other than your own.
Thatâ€™s a start. The best solution to this whole problem would be if our private call records and information werenâ€™t for public sale.