How to Trace a Private Number on a Cell Phone

by Colleen Collins

When "Private" or "Private Caller" displays for an incoming phone call in your caller ID, that means the caller has intentionally blocked his number (either through his telephone carrier or by entering "*67" or another blocking code before placing the call to you). It's more difficult to trace private caller IDs because the phone company is actively blocking that information, but there are some free techniques and fee-based services to help you unmask (unblock) that caller's true identity and phone number.

Let the call go to voice mail. This is the easiest way to check the identity of the caller. Don't answer the call, let it go to your voice mail, then listen to the message. Often people leave their names, phone numbers and reason they're calling in a message.

Dial "*69." In North America, pressing this code redials the last incoming caller's phone number; however, it's a good idea to first check with your cell phone provider if it offers this code (your provider's contact number is on your monthly statements). If a person answers, explain you received a blocked caller ID from this number, and would like to know who called you. If you get that person's answering service, she may identify her name and/or phone number in that message.

Press the redial button. Many cell phones have a redial button--press it immediately after receiving a private caller ID to ring through to that phone. If a person answers, politely explain you received an anonymous call from that number and would like to know who was calling you. If you hear a voice message, the person may identify himself and/or his phone number on it. If your phone doesn't have a redial button, check the phone documentation for a redial feature, or call the manufacturer (whose number is on the main page of its website) and ask if that model has a redial feature.

Purchase anonymous call blocking. Contact your cell phone or landline service provider and ask if it offers anonymous call blocking. This is a paid service that stops blocked calls ringing through to your cell phone; instead, callers hear a recording to unblock their calls if they wish to ring through to your phone. Because callers must unblock their numbers to reach you, their information (name and/or phone number) displays on your caller ID instead of "Private." Check with your service provider because some companies only offer a variation of this setup.

Purchase an unblocking service. offers a service that provides you a toll-free number. You then forward your incoming blocked calls (including those marked "private") to this toll-free number, which unmasks the blocking and returns the name and/or number to your cell phone caller ID (see Resources). To sign up for this service, go to, scroll down to "Step By Step Instructions," click the "Click here" link in Step 1, and follow the instructions.


  • check If you are receiving threatening or intimidating calls from a private caller ID, contact your cell phone provider and request to speak to its security department, which (depending on the provider's policies) may set up a call trace or request you file a complaint with local law enforcement. Neither course of action means the personal information associated with a private caller ID (such as the person's name, phone number, address) is released to you; however, it means authorities will take action on your behalf to halt that caller from making further phone calls to you.

About the Author

In 1997 Harlequin published Colleen Collins' first novel, followed by many more by Harlequin and Dorchester. Her articles and writing have appeared in "P.I. Magazine," "Pursuit Magazine" and "Cosmopolitan." She earned a B.A. in theater arts from University of California, Santa Barbara and is an active member of Mystery Writers of America.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera beauty sexy business woman with sunglass Speak cell phone image by Anatoly Tiplyashin from