Telco Q&A for private investigators

By Michele Yontef ('Ma-Bell')

Michele Yontef teaches PIs and LEOs nationally, how to use Telecom based secrets to skip trace and ID subscribers of phone numbers in her seminars "Telecom Secrets" now in their 4th year. Turning away all but licensed professionals or specially selected, industry associates; she has become a PI advocate for privacy- rejecting the income potential of accepting the public or writing her secrets in a book, which could be disseminated. A strong advocate of using intelligence to teach law enforcement
how to find abducted children, she is proud to be both a volunteer and director of which provides the only all professional team of PIs and LEO in the world that for no fee, is actually brining home Americas abducted children 1 at a time. Known by her peers as "Ma-Bell" because of her unique abilities in navigating the phone system, her fine reputation of excellence follows her as she advises thousands online via YahooGroups on how to tackle difficult phone based mysteries. The only state and federal court appointed expert witness and expert witness consult in the emerging new field of telecommunications investigations, Michele's court testimony explains false number broadcasts, subpoena compliance data retrieval ability, and network routing - which via analysis has proved accused, innocent. An Arizona licensed private investigator, paralegal, and officer of court, Michele's unique and sought after personal services includes all forms of phone trace, skip trace, VIP clandestine relocation, and celebrity stealthing needs.

Contact her offices at 877-665-6864 or visit online and learn about telecom secrets locations at

Greetings readers! Since 1998, I have enjoyed assisting other private investigators with answers to telecommunications questions pertaining to PI work in several magazines online and on store shelves. In Telephone Corner, I choose 1 Telecom investigational question off the PI groups each month to answer:

Q. "How do I find out which long distance company someone is using?"

When someone chooses long distance - it's a secondary process to choosing a local exchange carrier. There are thousands of long distance providers in the USA, but no central depository for public access showing which long distance a subscriber has chosen.

This presents a problem for investigators assisting with subpoena compliance report preparations of a targets long distance provider, what carrier should be targeted? This article is designed to explain the different types of toll calling so the PI can legally gather the factual data needed for legal process of long distance.

Understanding how toll calling is set up from a billing perspective will assist you in navigating long distance carriers per subscriber. A local exchange carrier provides unlimited 'free' calling (Inclusive of monthly bill) and can provide 'toll' calling within their region, which is called a LATA (Local Access Transport Area). Each LATA has a different area code, calls incurring a toll but not crossing the LATA (Not dialing into another area code) boundary are referred to as 'local tolls' or intraLATA calls.

There are also traditional 'long distance' calls, these occur when the subscriber calls outside of their LATA (Into another area code) and are known as interLATA calls.

Now that you understand the concept of intraLATA and interLATA lets look into Pac Bell for a specialized study. Pac Bell breaks down billing of long distance even more then most phone companies:

Local calls (Free - inclusive of monthly bill) are 12 miles or less from your location
Zone tolls (Incur a toll) from 12-17 miles from your location (intraLATA)
Local tolls (Incur a toll) from 17-60 miles (Can be intraLATA or interLATA)
Long Distance (Incur a toll) from 60 miles out (interLATA)

Understand that a subscriber can choose different carriers for different types of toll calls, for example a Pac Bell user could have zone and local tolls (intraLATA's) provided via Pac Bell, but have their interLATA calls billed through MCI. As such, the investigator would need to establish and secure subpoena compliance data for both Pac Bell and MCI when conducting an investigation on all 'toll calls' (Inclusive of long distance).

There's more! A target will choose an assigned long distance carrier, however at anytime they can bypass that chosen carrier and route a call through a different long distance provider (That may have a better price for the specified call). This 're-routing' can be done by dialing the '10-10' number of the desired long distance provider, prior to making the long distance call. '10-10' numbers are 'Carrier Identification Code's' - a well known example of a '10-10' is heralded by both 'Alf' and 'John Madden' on TV as a great way to save money (10-10-220 Telecom USA, a subsidiary of MCI). '10-10' dialing does not always show up on the local exchange carrier's long distance portion of the bill, and calls made via pre paid calling card or collect (outgoing) wont be visible on the callers billing statement at all! Investigators need to make sure they assess these factors into their report when performing subpoena compliance studies.

If you wanted to find the chosen long distance on a line and were calling from the line in question you could dial: 1-area code-555-4141 to get the local toll carrier (intraLATA),
and 1-700-555-4141 to get the long distance carrier (interLATA).

If your investigating a subscriber remotely, and your legally authorized to be conducting such an investigation - determining the toll providers can be done as per the below:

1. While following the legal advice of an attorney so that you do not break any laws federal or locally, invoke a legal form of illusion (Pretext) to the target and ask what provider they have.

2. While following the legal advice of an attorney so that you do not break any laws federal or locally, call the persons local exchange carrier and ask to be transferred
to 'long distance' then ask what services are on the line.

3. While following the legal advice of an attorney so that you do not break any laws federal or locally, call one of the 'big' long distance providers (ATT, MCI, Sprint) and search for your targets number. ATT has 6 Million customers of long distance for example, so chances are your target subscriber will be found with ATT over anyone else.

Regarding the above suggestions (Provided privately for professionally licensed investigators only, and only for informational purpose), you should consult an attorney on the legality of obtaining information in your specific location before you proceed with your investigation. When performing any type of illusion (Pretext) you must not ever misrepresent yourself as a known entity and NEVER commit identity theft (This is a federal offense). So PIs talking to a TelCo during an investigation can say, "I am a PI, calling about number XXX-XXX-XXXX", but PIs absolutely could not say, "I am calling about my number which is XXX-XXX-XXXX", unless of course you are a PI and actually calling the TelCo with a question on your own services!

I hope this information will assist you in future subpoena compliance research regarding long distance calls! If you would like further reading on subpoena compliance and how to make money providing such to attorney's, please request "Michele Yontef's article on subpoena compliance" from PI Magazine October 2002 issue by writing:

Michele Yontef and Telecom Consultants Inc. do not provide tolls (Getting the calls off another persons business, residence or cellular phone) nor teach tolls in Telecom Secrets, nor approve exchange of such without a legal subpoena. Michele Yontef and Telecom Consultants Inc remind all readers to never follow any suggestion from any professional without legally protecting yourself via consultation with an attorney. All works presented by Michele Yontef are protected by copyright, reprint of this article is available by approval from its author only, write to Michele at Credentials for Michele Yontef: AZ PI Agency 9104007, Registered Officer Of Court # 247, CV available for court related issues by request.

All rights reserved © 2003 Michele Yontef Telecom Consultants Inc.
Used with Permissions, NAIS.