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napi21 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-13-06 08:48 PM
Original message
Can a prepaid cell phone be traced?
Keith Olberman had a spot tonight talking about several people who were arrested when they bought or attempted to buy multiple prepaid cell phones.

One of Shrub's justifications for wire tapping is sto listen to possible terrorist calls for future plans.

I don't even know if they can listen to the conversations on a prepaid cell, but even if they can, what good would it do? They can't be traced, can they?
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WannaJumpMyScooter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-13-06 08:53 PM
Response to Original message
1. Yes, of course. If you use your real name
and credit card to buy the minutes.
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Sydnie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-13-06 09:03 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. But anyone can buy one and unless the laws have changed you
only need minimal information to get one activated. I used to work for a cell phone company and getting a prepaid phone activated was very simple. Quite often one person would buy one for someone else and activate it in their name. ID theft could easily be done with one of these types of phones. Since there is no billing, a fake address and a stolen ID can mean phones activated where ever and with any carrier you want.

CA used to have (I think it was called) Cricket phones. They can preloaded with minutes. You bought the phone and used the minutes. When the minutes were gone, you threw the phone away. How the hell do you propose to trace something like that?
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WannaJumpMyScooter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-13-06 09:16 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. Yes, and they only way for them to be meaningfully
monitored if you knew for sure who was using it.

Like I said, if you used your real name, address and cc
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napi21 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-13-06 09:23 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. That's why I asked the question. Shrub is claiming he can find
terrorists via wire tapping. I think if you are a terrorist, you're better than that! I understand prepaid cells were available in Europe for quite a while, and they're just becoming popular here in the US. I know if I were trying ti hide, I would buy one and pay cahs. I don't know what you have to do to activate one of these things. If you need an ID, I guess you could just use a fake one.

To me, it destroys Shrub's reason to go around the FISA laws.
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hang a left Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-13-06 09:25 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Those phones are everywhere where I live.
Also the cards that you can load minutes with as well.
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bliss_eternal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-14-06 03:53 AM
Response to Reply #9
18. Because you are a logical, intelligent person
you can see around his bullshit, because that is all it is.

What man drowning in a pool of his own creation isn't going to try to grab onto passing debris to prevent him from going under? That's all he's doing. It doesn't make any sense, but really it isn't supposed to.

Everyone discussing it as if some sane human being said this is kind of funny. I've done it too. I also forget sometimes who and what we are talking about. Nothing about junior is logical or reasonable--he's a sociopath with money and power--really dangerous.

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serryjw Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-13-06 09:03 PM
Response to Original message
3. Wait until these hit the market
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Skidmore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-14-06 04:26 AM
Response to Reply #3
20. Something else to fill the landfills with.
This whole culture is sickening me. I don't have a cell phone of any type. Sometimes I'd like to pitch my land line as well. Guess I'm a Luddite after all cause I can't quite get on the "need every new gadget" bandwagon.
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moondust Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-13-06 09:04 PM
Response to Original message
4. Probably.
Edited on Fri Jan-13-06 09:34 PM by Xap
Depending on how well the prepaid provider (TracFone, etc.) is able to identify the person who activates it. Maybe not if an alias is used to activate it. No problem getting the phones w/minutes prepaid at Wal-Mart. Ask your local drug dealers.
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LiviaOlivia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-14-06 02:49 AM
Response to Reply #4
16. I recommend watching HBO's "The Wire" Season 3
on reruns or if HBO ever makes it available on DVD. This show covers it all.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-13-06 09:07 PM
Response to Original message
5. Go to any locale where drugs are sold on the street
...and poke around in the trash can. You'll often find those phones, shiny and new, in the garbage or tossed in the gutter. The drug dealers switch 'em out frequently so they can't be tapped. Often they are the kind that you reload with a card that you can get at a Best Buy, Circuit City or even a convenience store....
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Spock_is_Skeptical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-13-06 09:10 PM
Response to Original message
6. Yep! Any cellphone number... even landline calls
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Rainscents Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-13-06 09:21 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. It looks like, phone company are doing something about this
FCC must act on this issue and make it illegal!
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hang a left Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-13-06 09:24 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. They need to get a cease and desist order STAT.
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f-bush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-14-06 01:33 AM
Response to Original message
12. I don't think it can
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REP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-14-06 01:40 AM
Response to Original message
13. Calls Can Be Listened In On, No Matter How The Call Is Paid For
Cell phone calls are basically open radio transmissions (an oversimplification, but essentially true) and easy to monitor. Just because a cell is pre-paid doesn't mean calls from it can't be monitored and tracked; finding out to whom the phone was sold is trickier and even impossible if cash was used. The information in the call, however, is not dependent upon who paid for it.

Note: I'm not buying the story - I just know NEVER say anything on a cellphone you won't mind Officer Friendly overhearing.
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WannaJumpMyScooter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-14-06 12:15 PM
Response to Reply #13
21. Yes, I am not disputing that
But unless they know you have a specific number, that is useless.
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Horse with no Name Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-14-06 01:45 AM
Response to Original message
14. No.
You can pay cash for them at Walmart, 7-11, just about anywhere.
You buy the cards and pay cash for them.
I think you can get a TracFone for $20 now.
The actual phone itself isn't traceable, however, they can get a history of the numbers that you called on it and bug those people to find out who you are.
So unless everyone you know buys and tosses a TracFone weekly, it probably isn't gonna do you much good.
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Eugene Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-14-06 02:33 AM
Response to Original message
15. They can unless you strictly use cash without fail.
If you use a credit card to buy the phone or airtime, they can trace the phone back to you.
AT&T Wireless (now Cingular) has done that.

As for conversations, a prepaid cell phone works just like an ordinary cell phone.
It just takes more work to match the phone to the user without verifiable billing records.
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juliana24 Donating Member (209 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-14-06 03:07 AM
Response to Reply #15
17. If you want your privacy, use a pay phone, not a cellphone.
No billing records, just drop some coin in the slot.
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bliss_eternal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-14-06 03:54 AM
Response to Reply #17
19. People always look at me so strange when
I use payphones these days. Yep, I still do. I have a pre-paid cell phone that I rarely use. Frequently will still use payphones.

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Pavulon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-14-06 12:19 PM
Response to Original message
22. I would
think that a computer listening for a voice pattern could pick up the user. The signal can be triangulated.

Anything emitting a frequency can be traced. Radio equipment can be traced and located easily.
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-14-06 12:28 PM
Response to Original message
23. Tracked, yes, traced maybe
Each and every single cell phone, pre-paid, disposable or otherwise is required by law to have a GPS chip in the phone(gee thanks Bill Clinton :eyes:) Thus, an anonymous disposable phone can be tracked, though if you gave the seller any personal information, like paying for it with a credit card, debit card or check, your name will be attached to that phone's number. If you bought a disposable, paid in cash, gave false ID, etc, you won't be personally hooked with the phone. But it wouldn't suprise me that the serial numbers of phones so bought are probably flagged for future reference.
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