zen.org Communal Weblog

December 10, 2004

The funny result of calling from Ireland -> a US 800 # to identify the caller

Filed under: — brendan @ 14:58 GMT

Phone companies often offer customers the (barely documented) ability to identify the number you’re using. By calling an ANAC (Automatic Number Announcement Circuit), you can have the system tell you the phone number that is the origin of your call. I was reading stuff in the Blacklisted! 411 online forum and saw a post about one such ANAC that you can use all over the US: +1-800-444-4444. That number also appears with many others in The Tech FAQ‘s own explanation of ANACs.

If you use the “default” monopoly phone provider in Ireland, you have to pay a lot for calls to America. But there are alternatives, including one company called TeleStunt that charges the normal national call rate in Ireland for international calls to the US. (All calls in Ireland are charged by the minute—we don’t have any “local calls” like the US does.)

Through Telestunt I called the 800 number above, and was told by MCI that I was calling from “719 555 1212”; look it up, and you find that it’s directory assistance in Colorado. For kicks, I dialed the 800 number directly, and was told that I was calling from 212 918 0000; the prefix of 212-918-xxxx is in New York City. Call it, and you get a busy signal. A Google search of the number just finds a PDF with a weird phone bill.

Wonder why Telestunt shows me in Colorado, and via our regular phone company we’re in New York City?

Does that imply that a harassing or threatening call from here to the US wouldn’t be (easily) traceable?

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