With the wide variety of phone technology available today, some individuals are exploiting these new innovations in order to anonymously harass, threaten or "prank" individuals. While some of these incidents may be relatively harmless, a situation may arise where the receiver of one of these calls feels in danger or threatened. In a situation such as this, you can use the *57 feature to immediately trace the call you receive and dial the caller's number, even if their contact information has been masked.
The Basics of Call Trace
The *57 feature is neither a phone tracker nor a GPS tracker. Instead, it's a call tracing service. This means that the receiver of a call can choose to immediately dial the number of the call received even if it was concealed and anonymous. Call tracing is especially useful in situations where an individual is hoping to identify a potential harasser or provide official documentation that harassment has occurred. Information retrieved from the trace will be transmitted directly to the police upon request.
In some situations, these calls may end up being something far more serious. In the event that someone has called and threatened the physical safety of the recipient, the police may be able to use this information to press criminal charges. With that in mind, *57 can be particularly useful in identifying who has made the threatening calls and who the police should be looking for.
Moving Ahead With Call Trace
Service providers such as AT&T are quick to point out that the *57 call trace service should be used only in situations where an individual believes that the calls they receive are violating the law. The *57 feature is not the appropriate tool to use if you're attempting to remove your name from an advertiser's call list, for example.
It is also important to note that the *57 service is typically not free. Your phone provider will keep track of each occurrence in which *57 has been used and will assign a per-use charge. This also highlights that *57 must be dialed each time you want it used. It's not a service that's turned "on" or "off."
When *57 is activated, you must call your local law enforcement agency immediately, but you should still plan to keep an accurate record of when these calls occur and the nature of the call itself to help supplement police investigations. As with any legal action, the more information you can provide for the police intervention, the better.
Identifying Some Exceptions and Comparisons
Although *57 is an excellent resource for helping safeguard yourself and others, it may not be available in all areas of phone service. Individuals should check with their phone service provider in order to determine whether they will, indeed, be be able to take advantage of this tool. In a situation where an individual may not be able to take advantage of *57, local law enforcement may recommend alternative methods for protecting against phone harassment.
A number of apps have also been introduced which offer a variety of phone tracing and tracking services. For example, apps such as Phone Tracker By Number allow families to register phones belonging to family members and use a GPS trace to determine their location at any given time.
One of the primary differences between these products and the *57 service is that the latter can directly connect law enforcement with the information they need to pursue the crime. Apps can't claim similar features. For some, a combination of popular call-tracing smart phone apps and the *57 service may be the best possible way to protect against phone harassment and the possibility of more serious threats.