Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Company offers unmasking of Caller ID block

[caption id="attachment_1485" align="alignright" width="200" caption="1) You get a blocked call 2) You reject the blocked call, it is then rerouted through TrapCall's servers 3) TrapCall then forwarda the call back to you with the caller ID revealed. "]1) Ever get one of those annoying blocked or restricted calls? 2) Our ultra-high tech servers snap their digital fingers and the convenience begins... 3) A quick Snap! and the unblocked number is instantly sent to your cell phone. No software needed. [/caption]

A company called TrapCall, a subsidiary of TelTech Systems is offering a service (free or paid depending on what package you choose) where they can unmask numbers that are caller ID blocked.

Since the early 1990's, Caller ID, and Caller ID blocking has been around.  All phone carriers are required per the FCC to offer these services.  Those who choose to have their phone number blocked would at times have to unmask their ID for their call to get through by hitting "*67" before dialing the phone number.

However, the way TrapCall handles this process this is different.  Anytime you receive a phone call with Caller ID block, you are supposed to reject the call; at that moment, the call is rerouted through TrapCall's servers where then it's forwarded back to you with the phone number of the recipient.  This whole process is supposed to take up to 6 seconds.

At this time, the service is limited with certain phone carriers. AT&T and T-Mobile were listed among the carriers that TrapCall is currently supports.

Some organizations are not thrilled  about this service.  Cindy Southworth, director of the Safety Net Project at the National Network to End Domestic Violence said:
When Caller ID first came out, phone companies worked very closely with domestic violence advocates to make sure victims could make anonymous calls and this strips away that anonymity.

Anonymity matters in many cases, sometimes women are mandated by a judge to discuss where they're going to drop off the children for visitation and they have to make that call.  Now I'm advising victims to use a third party -- a mother, a sister or a friend -- to make the call and not to trust that their number really is blocked.

Teltech's (parent company of TrapCall) CEO Meir Cohen said this service was made with domestic abuse victims in mind.  "They been complaining that they have stalkers and are getting harassed, so we made a product to unblock Caller ID [so they know who is calling them]."

Revealing Caller ID isn't the only feature that TrapCall offers.  They also have additional services (part of their premium packages) that allow you to record your calls, blacklist unwanted calls, get alerts when you miss calls, obtain a billing names and addresses of the callers,  and transcribe your voicemail messages.  (The voicemail transcription is actually done by individuals not a machine, so beware if you decide to get this feature.)

Cohen also recommended using their other product, SpoofCard which allows you to change your phone number on caller ID so that the recieving end of the phone call will see a spoofed number rather then your actual phone number.

... Doesn't that ultimately defeat the purpose of TrapCall?  Personally I've never known of a company to provide a product that counters a service they offer.