Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Last month you ordered pizza every night for a week. You placed an anonymous call to Child Protective Services. You checked your voicemail 25 times one day to see if that special person had called.
Most of us assume that our phone records are private. Despite mounting legal battles, information brokers on the Internet continue to offer the name and address connected to a cell phone number, an individual's phone number, even the complete record of outgoing and incoming phone calls.
Several websites offer cell phone records for a fee as small as $110. It is thought that these online information brokers use a technique called pretexting to obtain the records ñ pretending to be the customer and asking that the phone statement be faxed or emailed. The ease with which individuals can illegitimately obtain this information is likely discomforting to most. But in some circumstances it can be life threatening.
If you are a victim of stalking, involved in divorce proceedings, or simply concerned about your privacy, there are several steps you can take to protect your phone records.
The following tips can reduce the possibility that someone can obtain your cell phone records
- Contact your cell phone carrier and request that call details be removed from your bills.
- Place a password on the account. When selecting a password, do not use commonly known information, such as your birthdate, mother's maiden name, or numbers from your driver's license or Social Security number. Do not reuse the same password for other sites. The best password has at least eight characters and includes numbers and letters.
- Instruct the phone carrier not to provide password reminders. If you forget your password, you will need to visit your local store to show identification.
- Instruct the carrier to deactivate online access to your account. One of the methods apparently used by online information brokers to obtain cell phone records is to take advantage of online account access that customers have not themselves activated.
Please note that these tips will prevent unscrupulous people from obtaining your records through commercial vendors. But these tips will not prevent disclosure of information if a court order is obtained.