Saturday, February 15, 2014

Conceal Your Location: Use a Cutout Phone

From time to time operational security (OPSEC) may dictate that you conceal your physical location from someone with whom you speak on the telephone. For example, you may remain in contact with a member of a mutual assistance group (MAG), but not want someone to be able to use that person's phone records to trace your whereabouts. One way to do this is to employ a "cutout phone."


To start, you'll want to acquire a throw-away prepaid phone that supports call forwarding as your cutout phone. Inexpensive prepaid phones such as an LG 800G Trac Fone or a Samsung R355C Net 10 phone are available from many retailers, including Walmart and Target. You can purchase the phone and load it with talk time for cash; you'll want to load it up with plenty of talk time.

Next, set up call-forwarding or call divert on your prepaid phone, so that calls to your phone get automatically forwarded to your target's phone number (in this example, to the phone of your MAG member). Typically, this is done by dialing *72 followed by your friend's phone number. When your friend answers, call forwarding is set up. If the line is busy or if your friend does not answer, you must try again, dialing *72 plus his number until someone answers.

Depending on your provider, the actual procedure to setup call forwarding may vary, so check. For GSM feature phones, for example you might dial *21*<targetnumber># to forward all calls; for 4G cell phones, the feature is probably accessed via a menu on the phone.

Next, discard your prepaid cutout phone or destroy it and dispose of the broken pieces. The call-forwarding is handled by the telephone network, not the actual phone. This arrangement will last as long as there remains talk time on your break phone, and as long as that talk time does not expire. Please make sure you understand how to extend the "use by" date of your prepaid phone provider's talk time; typically, the more time you load on your phone, the longer you can operate before that time expires--but only up to about one year.

Now, any time you dial that prepaid phone's number (may it rest in peace), your call will be forwarded to your target number. Your friend's phone's caller ID and phone bill detail will show the phone number of your cutout phone, not the phone you actually use.

13 comments:

  1. good info. Thanks.

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  2. Couldn't you set up a gmail account with and activate a google voice number? The call settings are way more customizable and voice mails can be converted to text/email and sent to the target phone. This all behind the Google Voice number. In fact you can even make outbound calls from a computer or cell phone that has the google voice number and that will show up on the other persons caller id. Check it out....It works well.

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    1. Your way would work, but it involves having an online footprint. Many people who are wanting to disappear won't ever log on to the Internet for anything, ever.

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  3. I forgot to add, the best part is that its free and you don't have to go somewhere and pay someone to load the cutout phone.

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  4. load it up with plenty of talk time.


    NOT!! If lost?? It's your loss.

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    1. Not only might you lose your phone, the advice is to actually destroy and/or discard it. Then the only way to add talk time is to do it online. This technique is especially for people who are trying to avoid every having to go online.

      One you're out of talk time, you have to start all over from the beginning--buy a new phone, load it up, etc. So yes, load that initial phone up right at the beginning to maximize the benefit.

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  5. You might consider turning this backwards and make you current phone the forwarder and leave it home in the charger. Everyone "knows" we go nowhere without our phone so this would give you some time out and about "alone" if you need to make a contact.

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    Replies
    1. That's another good application. My idea is for people who want to go off-grid.

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  6. if you lose control of the phone, and it is forwarded to your identifiable phone... what do you think will happen?
    Same with Google voice #.

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  7. I have a phone number that is forwarded to my cell at all times. The home phone was destroyed in a tornado and I have not replaced it.

    The home phone is permanently forwarded to my cell. I could do this myself, but it cost more. This way costs pennies but caused me a problem. I had it permanently forwarded to save money but lost control of the ability to turn that feature on and off.

    I had the phone forwarded because I was not getting home phone calls from doctor, kids, etc.

    NOW, the system informs the person calling the home phone of my cell number. That has caused me problems in that certain people now have my cell when I DID NOT want them to.

    I like forwarding my home phone without the permanent feature because no one knew where I was when I answered. I was not even thinking about being tracked, but right now it amounts to the same thing to me! I saved money but lost control of my phone, I feel. By forwarding, anyone could reach my ears, they were just unaware of where I was. We had a kid, petty thief in the neighborhood who would call houses to see if anyone were home, then break in. So, it was some security, not like you guys are talking about. This intrigues me. I could do the same thing with the track phone, leave it here, and call back if necessary to save the minutes. The only benefit of this arrangement I thought of for me would be to ditch the home phone.

    So, when the terrorists do this?

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  8. I've never really put that much thought about it but come to think of it, cellphones play a big role for someone! May it be someone trying to get under the grid or a relative making a long distance call, getting a high quality cutout phone is a logical choice.

    Darnell Collier

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  9. Why not just use the prepaid phone? Same as using a cutout, except you dont have the overhead of two phones. And to further confuse your "friends" you can dispose of, and acquire a new phone and number as you see fit, without someone having the ability to backtrack to your personal number through your cutout phone information. Just my .02

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