TrapCall Unblocks Caller ID, Exposes Number

New technology that eliminates anonymous callers by exposing their phone numbers and sometimes even their addresses is angering domestic abuse advocates, who say the product may put victims at risk.

TrapCall, which was launched Tuesday, was designed to unblock and reveal callers' identities and numbers even after individuals have tried to block the information.

Telephone users have been able to block personal information from showing up since the early 1990s, when Caller ID was introduced. In the past, people could rely on dialing either *-6-7 before placing a call or asking their phone company to always hide their number when they make outgoing calls to shield their identity.


It is TrapCall's promise to allow people to always see the phone number and even the home address of the person calling them, even if that person has blocked Caller ID, that has domestic abuse organizations upset. Abuse victims advocates argue that victims who routinely rely on blocking Caller ID when communiciating with abusers could be put in harm's way by TrapCall.

"I'm quite concerned about TrapCall," Cindy Southworth, the director of the Safety Net Project at the National Network to End Domestic Violence in Washington, D.C., told

"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," said Southworth.


But the president of the company that makes TrapCall said the technology was developed with domestic abuse victims in mind, to let them always see who is calling them. And if they are concerned about preserving their anonymity when they make calls, he said, the company has another product that can trick Caller ID.

According to Southworth, anonymity is often very important to domestic abuse victims who, even though they have left their abusive partners, are still required by law to remain in contact with them in situations where child custody issues exist.

"Anonymity matters in many cases," Southworth said. "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," Southworth said.

TrapCall Unblocks, Identifies Mystery Callers

According to Meir Cohen, president of TelTech, the New Jersey-based company that manufactures TrapCall, the product works by sending a blocked number through a software system that then identifies the number. That number is then sent to the person receiving the call, who can then decide whether to answer.

"If you get a call on your phone and the number is blocked, you hit 'decline' and while the caller hears ringing in the background and doesn't know anything has happened, a few seconds later your phone will start ringing again and this time it will show the phone number," Cohen said, explaining what happens when an incoming call is caught in TrapCall.

The free version of TrapCall reveals the name and number of the caller, while two other more expensive packages, priced at $9.95 and $24.95, offer more advanced features, such as voicemail transcription sent to your e-mail and the ability to record all your incoming calls at the touch of a button.

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