How to Trace a Harassing Phone Call From a Private Number

By Barb Nefer

Updated October 25, 2017

Trace a Harassing Phone Call From a Private Number
i Photo: stock.xchng

It can be frustrating, and even frightening, to receive a harassing phone call from a private number. When the caller masks his phone number, you will feel helpless because you have no simple way to know who is bothering you. Fortunately there are ways to unmask a private number even though the caller might be taking steps to block it. You may need to get your phone company and the police involved, but you'll be able to identify the harassing caller and stop the problem.

Document details about the harassing phone call, including the date, time and length of the call, and what the caller says to you. If you get more than one call, create a log to track each occurrence. If you live in a state that allows you to tape phone calls without the consent of the other party, tape record the harassing calls.

Report the harassing phone call to both the phone company and the police. Fill out a police report to get the problem officially on record. Use your documentation to help you fill out the report so it will contain complete information on the full extent of the harassment.

Ask your phone service provider to enable call tracing on your line if it is not already available. Typically this will involve dialing a code like *57 after you receive a harassing phone call from a private number. The number will be provided to the local police, and they can connect it with the police report you filed.

Request the caller information from the police department. Most phone companies will only provide the results of a trace to law enforcement agencies. Once the police get it and link it to your police report, they should be able to give you the phone number and the name and address of the person to whom the number is linked.

Use Trap Call to unmask the number if you receive the harassing phone call from a private number on your cell phone (see Resources). Trap Call is a special service that can unmask private calls to a cell phone and send the number to the cell. It offers a free trial, and you can purchase a subscription if you have frequent problems with harassing calls from private numbers.


Call tracing can unmask private phone numbers used for harassment, but many annoyance callers will use pre-paid cell phones or pay phones to further conceal their identities. Don't depend on call tracing to stop the problem. You may need to be prepared to change your telephone number. Most phone companies will do the change for free if you request it due to harassment.