Prepaid Phone Reverse Reality

Valerie McGilvrey
Jul 5, 2020 · 6 min read
Valerie McGilvrey on The Daily Skip

Prepaid phones have become the most popular type of consumer cellular phone account today. You can juggle the reasons why between affordability, privacy, and the fact that you can pick one up at Target while you’re buying baby diapers. It’s also an obstacle to overcome for most of us who have a prepaid phone number and need to figure out where it sleeps at night and with whom.

Postpaid phone numbers are so much easier to reverse with databases such as Skipsmasher, Delvepoint, and IRBsearch but only if its owner has had the number for a while and actively uses it pushing their information into mainstream marketing data which our favorite databases will ultimately include.

Insurance purchases, debt collectors, and payday loans, along with any other type of service which caters to the under-banked sector of consumers, add to the list of strong data aggregation making it a fantastic combination for verifying information on a prepaid cell phone number.

Alternatively, social media delivers another source to link an identity to a number. Search the phone number as you would a name in the search bar Facebook. You could find public posts that include the phone number even if you don’t find an account linked to it. If you find a profile linked to a phone number, don’t jump for joy yet, you still have to confirm that person is the current owner of the phone.

If a phone number is ported from a cell provider to Google Voice, open-source and professional databases won’t show the date of porting until those sources update their records. This could take months, or over a year to happen. I’m looking for dates to compare to other reports I’ve pulled so I can rule it out or confirm who it belongs to. This matters because a number can be ported to a free VoIP service and continue to be used as a cell to set up two-step authentication on sites that otherwise would reject a VoIP phone number for registration.

If you locate your target’s Twitter account, you can use some nifty Twitter tools such as Tweetpaths and Geosocialfootprint [read more here] to locate places they’ve been and surmise a future location. I’ve found some really good info by searching a phone number in the top search box on Twitter. You’ll find mostly younger folks who don’t use any part of their real name and tweet publicly about their lives along with some nice pictures of where they live or stay, “Hey bro call me at 555–555–5555 n letz go 2 da new club 2nite.” Don’t forget to remove the dashes and search again. Lazy tweeters won’t move between two keyboard screens.

Twitter has an enormous selection of third-party search tools that use their oAuth API. A few of my favorite tools have been around for a long time, others are simply a flash in the pan because they violate Twitter’s terms and conditions. Twitter’s very own search page is found here

Many social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have included an option for a user to prevent their profile from being found by their phone number. This option is a recent change and is a step in Facebook’s Privacy Checkup. If a person has a reason to hide, they may opt-out.

Affiliate marketing sites such as Thatsthem or Reversegenie have surprisingly accurate and up to date information. I’ve been astounded by results on skips that have nothing new in the professional databases but show new home address, phone, and occasionally an IP address with a date and a note of the source of info.

You’re always going to be referred to a third-party company to purchase a report. We refer to these sites as a bait and switch site. If your professional databases can’t deliver, I’m pretty sure that the third party sites won’t be able to either. Customer discount cards, surveys, credit card companies, sweepstakes entries, and even insurance products sell customer data to marketing and lead generation companies and they also sell to Spokeo, Pipl, Zabasearch, Thatsthem, and Reversegenie.

Currently, the top source of user-submitted data is in smartphone games which give an in-game reward for completing an advertiser’s survey. Yes, I’ll give you my new address and phone number for 100 gold bars. Thank you very much!

Credit card companies you ask? Why yes, American Express sells a list of their cardholders who make more than $100,000 a year to companies who want to target their marketing to a particular income range. If American Express does it, then I would believe that Visa and MasterCard do it too.

Numberguru is now owned by Whitepages they offer a product called Whitepages Pro which takes you to a new level of dissecting a phone number. Pro will tell you the name of the app or telecom provider which owns the phone number, dates of porting and if there are any user name and address data, you’ll see that too. It will also tell you if the number is in the Do Not Call government registry and has a nice feature of integrating street view if there’s an address available. There’s a free trial but no batching offered which for me, was a deal-breaker.

Pipl has outstanding data and if you use an API subscription, you’ll find all kinds of goodies like Amazon accounts, dating site profiles, and forum memberships. Their competitor, Spokeo made some changes in the information which they provide after they were ordered to pay a fine of $800,000 by the FTC for selling fake employment records on their background searches and false advertising by using actors to pose as consumers who gave a glowing review on a television commercial. Spokeo even had a credit score prediction graphic for each paid search. I’m not at all saying that the Spokeo of today isn’t worth trying, but is the data trustworthy?

You’ll never find one consistently good source of information. If you fall in love with one and swear by it, just as sure as the sun rises in the morning, you’ll eventually be disappointed with results and realize you’ve sold yourself short because you’ve limited yourself to only one or two sources.

If the information exists, I can find it. If you’ve tried and tried again, and your investigation has an attorney involved, then you can use the power of the subpoena to get strategic information such as how the service is paid, when, account numbers, addresses, and phone numbers. A debit card from a personal checking account? What about a reload card purchased at a retail outlet with cash? Each source is a potential piece of information to get you to closer to pay dirt.

The numbers on the prepaid phone refill card are specific to a retail store that stocked it and will also be connected to the cash register which activated it and loaded the funds. An exact date, time, cashier name, and a video of the person who purchased it, video of them walking to the parking lot and video of the vehicle they leave in with a possible license plate too.

Some may recall a Texas death row inmate named Richard Tabler who was secretly given a prepaid cell phone by a prison guard. Tabler, who had mental problems, called Texas Sen. John Whitmire to let him know that even though he’s on death row, he can still get information, and then proceeded to give the names of the senator’s daughters and names of other state prison official’s family members. All Texas prisons went on lockdown and over 1000 smuggled cell phones were seized from inmates.

Richard Tabler’s mother and sister were immediately charged and arrested for buying the refill cards which kept the phone in operation. The Texas Department of Corrections investigation swiftly identified them from a video of the sale by tracing the refill card number.

Our options for getting the good info keeps getting better. If one thing doesn’t work, something else will. You just have to keep trying to find that something else.

© 2011–2020 Valerie McGilvrey The Daily Skip All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reproduced in whole or part without written permission.


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Valerie McGilvrey

Written by

I write about skip tracing, asset location and judgement enforcement. Grab a cold beverage and let's do this.



Learn and discuss privacy, skip tracing, OSINT, asset searches, and all related investigative things.

Valerie McGilvrey

Written by

I write about skip tracing, asset location and judgement enforcement. Grab a cold beverage and let's do this.



Learn and discuss privacy, skip tracing, OSINT, asset searches, and all related investigative things.

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