Categories: Getting Started / Tips & Tricks :

HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice!

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HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! Skunkworks 12/13/09 2:10 PM
Background
As you may know, toll-free numbers are capable of seeing your caller ID even when you block it.
 
This is possible because three different types of information about your phone number are transmitted to the phone company of your called party. These are:
 
CPN: A ten digit number that usually matches your phone number, or in the cases of some businesses, a general callback number. It also has a bit that indicates whether the the calling party (you) has dialed *67 and therefore wants their number kept secret. This number is what Caller ID is derived from, if *67 was not dialed, the Caller ID will exactly match the CPN; if *67 was dialed, the called party's phone company still sees the CPN but sends the Caller ID as "Private" or "Unknown."
 
ANI: A ten digit number that matches the phone line the last leg of the call originated from. This will match the calling party's number in most cases, but will usually be replaced by another number if the call is not placed directly (eg. through a service like a calling card or Google Voice.) A residential customer never sees this information, but toll free numbers and some businesses can subscribe to real-time ANI.
 
ANI-II: A two digit number that identifies the type of phone line the call is being placed from, such as landline, payphone, cell phone etc.
 
How Google Voice Affects These Data
When a call is placed over google voice, either by dialing your google voice number and calling out with it, or by initiating it over the web, no data is left about your landline or cell phone in the CPN, ANI or ANI-II, it is replaced with the following data (where xxx-xxx-xxxx is your Google Voice number):
CPN: xxx-xxx-xxxx
ANI: xxx-xxx-xxxx
ANI-II: 00 (Indicating the call was placed from a "landline")
This means that even in calling toll free numbers, it appears that the call originated from your Google Voice number. This adds some privacy, but it still leaves a working call-back number that belongs to you!
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! Skunkworks 12/13/09 2:11 PM
..continued.
 
How to Make Truly Anonymous Calls
For whatever odd reason, Google Voice will send erroneous ANI and CPN data that does not match your number if you do the following:
-Dial *67
-Call your Google Voice Number
-Press * and enter your PIN
-Use option 2 to dial out from voicemail
The CPN and ANI will match neither your number nor that of your Google Voice number! You can now call toll-free numbers and businesses without them logging your phone number.
The erroneous CPN and ANI will be the same non-working number, it varies from time to time but currently it seems to be 404-260-5532.
You can test it out yourself by calling 800-444-4444 (this number will read back your ANI) and 888-253-8239 (this number reads back your CPN after the inactivity message) both with and without this privacy trick.
 
Hope this helps you stay one step ahead of the telemarketers!
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! funnyboy240 12/13/09 5:04 PM
@Skunkworks

Except it only works if you call from one of your forwarding numbers. If you call from another phone it will show your GV number as usual.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! petefromflorida 12/13/09 5:43 PM
I have an 800 number.  If people try to use *67 I can't tell because I see their number anyway.  If they call me from a GV number then I see their GV number but I can't see the number they're actually calling from.  Most people that have 800 numbers have it so people can call them for free and don't use it to capture phone numbers.  Collection agencies are the exception since they will use your real number to harrass you.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! Skunkworks 12/13/09 9:26 PM
@funnyboy240
Are you totally sure? I just tried this out from my home phone, which is not forwarded to one of my GV numbers, and it still worked.
 
With this trick an 800 number owner sees a general number common to all Google Voice users.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! funnyboy240 12/13/09 9:49 PM
@Skunkworks

Yea because when I tried it out on one of my other cell phones it said my GV number, but when I tried my number it worked and said the exact number you said it would say.404-260-5532
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! Skunkworks 12/14/09 5:01 PM
@funnyboy240
Are you sure that your Caller ID is being properly blocked with that phone?
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! funnyboy240 12/14/09 6:22 PM
@Skunkworks
Yes, I'm sure.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! Skunkworks 12/14/09 8:01 PM
Well I guess it might a problem on cell phones or on some cell phones. Any luck repeating this elsewhere?
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! funnyboy240 12/15/09 11:01 AM
@Skunkworks

Nope, it seems to still do the same thing as it did before. Anyone else try to see if they get the same result?
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! petefromflorida 12/15/09 12:27 PM
I just used Skunkworks original idea on my own 800 number which is not connected to my GV account.  It worked just like he said and the reported number 404-260-5532 was just as he said it would be.  I tried it from both a number that is a forwarding number on my account and another number that is not listed on my account and got the same results.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! Mitrik 12/26/09 11:44 AM
If it is true that you can block your ANI and CPN info I am sure they will fix that soon enough.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! Skunkworks 12/26/09 2:09 PM
@Mitrik
 
Sure is true, hard to tell whether it is intentional or not though. I'd almost guess it is intentional, as there is really no requirement that ANI or CPN be transmitted for a call, they are frequently lost when placing operator assisted calls also.
 
From a law enforcement point of view, the ANI and CPN easily point back to google voice, which would have the records of where the call was placed from, so it doesn't really provide any "safety" for people trying to pull shady stuff. However for people simply trying to protect their privacy from toll free number owners, especially some of the less reputable businesses out there, its a good feature.
 
I for one hope it doesn't get "fixed."
 
Note: there are several calling cards out there (usually the ones with local access numbers) that do the same thing, pingo comes to mind off hand, it sends a number in area code 212 as ANI and CPN when you dial *67 before calling the access number.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! ericson1203 12/29/09 5:48 PM
Stevens College of Technology currently on my last year for Computer Networking and Systems Administration and working in a group for the final project of the year.  We are working on getting a VOIP server set up with all possible features working, including the ability to make and receive outside calls to POTS phones.  I was wondering if 1. I would be able to set up a truck to google voice to achieve this, and 2. if it is possible, would someone please send me an invitation?  We've been searching around and google voice seems like a pretty good solutions, and since we're college students, we dont have much money to spare ;).  I've sent in a Grand station account request last year around this time when I first started learning about VOIP, and again since I saw that google voice is making progress, but I have not heard anything back from either request.  If someone could help me out, I would greatly apprieciate it, and it would be an awesome touch my e mail is edris...@yahoo.com thanks
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! Skunkworks 12/31/09 12:40 PM

@ericson1203

Well this isn't too related to the original topic but here are a few tips...

Google voice invites are generally going for only a couple bucks on ebay, twitter is also a great place to search for people giving away invites.

As far as placing and receiving calls with GV to a "VoIP server" (I'm assuming you mean an asterisk PBX, or do you really mean a VoIP server?), you should check out this link: http://nerdvittles.com/?p=637

Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! McMabaref 1/2/10 9:50 AM
This is wrong. I have tried calling 800-444-4444 (this number will read back your ANI) and 888-253-8239 (this number reads back your CPN). In both cases they identified my original number, not GV. Indeed, this is the expected behavior. If you check out "Call" settings, then Google says:

"Display my Google Voice number
Note: this setting currently only applies to SMS; calls will be included soon."

So it is not yet available.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! Skunkworks 1/2/10 11:57 AM
@McMabaref
 
Nope, I just checked and my trick still works fine.
 
Are you sure your following the steps properly, especially dialing *67 to block Caller ID before calling your Google Voice number?
 
This trick does not work when you place calls via the web interface, nor try to dial out of a voicemail when you called in without blocking your Caller ID.
 
Note: use of *67 is free on all carriers.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! i40gordy 1/5/10 9:45 PM
@ Skunkworks

How does your service provider know when you are using a GV # or your own #? Or do they know? I'm guessing they already know, it makes no difference anyway, and just deduct your minutes as usual.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! Mullet61 1/6/10 7:25 AM
I just tried it. Works like a charm
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! Skunkworks 1/6/10 2:30 PM

@i40gordy
 
Calling your google voice number is billed just like calling any other number. The web initiated call is billed just the same as receiving any other call. Google voice is free, but normal charges from your phone provider for incoming and outgoing calls are still billed normally.
 
And as far as I can tell, there is no way for your phone company to tell if a number is a google voice number or not. Google seems to buy up a few thousand blocks (such as NPA-321-5xxx for example), and sometimes entire exchanges (such as NPA-321-xxxx for example), in various area codes, thousands of different groups of numbers in all. Given that GV had 1.4 million customers a couple months ago, they must have full control of at least 1,400 exchanges or 14,000 thousand blocks, if not upwards of 2,000/20,000. There is simply no way for phone companies to keep up with that without the list being publicized. And there is no way for them to see an incoming call is from google voice either, google voice calls show up as 00-POTS/Landline under ANI-II (used to identify the type of line the call is being placed from).

I do suppose the LERG (local exchange routing guide) could give away which exchanges/blocks are owned by google, but I'm not sure google directly owns the exhanges, they may just be leasing them from CLECs.

Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! Sodas 1/8/10 11:55 AM
Yes, method confirmed. Thank you! (P.S:  Don't give out invites to people that request them online.)
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! ebear422 1/10/10 12:24 PM
800-444-4444 belongs to MCI and I suppose they might some day get tired of people using it for this purpose, rather than what they intended, which is for their customers to call them about their accounts.

Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! Storm2Voices 1/10/10 7:12 PM
This method does not seem to work on Verizon Wireless.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! all3ykat 1/16/10 9:32 PM
I use Verizon and I tried this method three days ago and it worked perfectly.  MCI's number was reading back a three digit number that I was calling from, something like 527.  Now MCI's 1-800-444-4444 number reads back my GV ANI.  This is no longer functionable for whatever reason.  Fscking blows.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! Skunkworks 1/24/10 2:44 PM

Ok well things have changed a bit. This still does work, but the ANI and CPN are no longer 404-260-5532.
 
Google voice is now causing something known as an ANI failure when you place a call after dialing in with *67 caller ID blocking.
 
The new data being passed is as follows:
ANI: 585 (ANI Failure)
Caller ID: Private
CPN: 585+Privacy Bit
ANI-II: 00 (POTS/Landline)
 
This doesn't have much effect on my privacy trick, it will still work fine!
 
The only difference is that the call now appears to be "operator assisted," and a few toll free numbers will automatically reject the call.
 
To everyone who isn't getting the trick to work: are you sure your doing the following steps?
1. dial *67 (won't work if you skip this, this trick won't work with web initiated calls!)
2. dial google voice number
3. dial * and then your pin unless you are calling from one of your forwarding phones
4. dial 2 and then dial the number you want to call followed by #

@ebear422
Very true, although wikipedia's artile on ANACs (phone numbers that read back your phone number) mentions the 800-444-4444 ANAC, so it's no huge secret. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_number_announcement_circuit)

@all3ykat
You were trying right when it switched over from 404-260-5532 to 585, so I'd try again now and report back

Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! mad4color 1/26/10 1:25 AM
Not a google voice solution, but my favorite way to call an 800 number is from a payphone, those disappearing thingamajigs!  You don't have to put coins in to call a toll free number, if you can find a workjing payphone.

I used to work for the IRS. People are terrified of the IRS, and I won't elaborate here.  The IRS usually won't track your calls, unless they think you are suicidal over a tax bill, etc.  Then they have some emergency ways of finding you to save your life.

If you really fear someone like the IRS, go to a payphone and call. the toll-free number.  Don't identify yourself.  Say, what if someone owes you X amount of dollars, no longer has the high paying job from the last 2 years, and what will happen if the person can't pay?

Just describe your situation anonymously as well as you can. You should be able to get details of stuff like payment plans or whether or not they will put you into a "currently not collectible status."  They have to explain the options.

Then, when you feel comfortable, contact them and identify yourself.

This advice works for just about anybody you owe:  call anonymously and get general info first.

I'm not afraid of my credit card collectors, but I don't want them calling me at home, and am looking intently at google voice and its number cloaking mechanisms.

Now, at my classic home phone, I am getting too many other people's collectors as well as my own.  My mother, who has no bills, is also getting calls over at least 3 other people's bills.

I supposed the collectors are really greedy and desparate these days.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! Skunkworks 1/26/10 4:55 PM
Update: MCI refuses to connect calls to their 800-444-4444 ANAC when the call has ANI failure. The number will ringout before going to a reorder when you call with this "cloaking technique."
 
Also it appears that the other ANAC I listed (888-253-8239) has now been assigned to a company (maybe they found this thread and thought it was a way to get some extra calls? haha)
 
Another inactive toll free number that will function the same way is 888-776-5733. It will say the realtime ANI was not transmitted when you use my anonymity trick.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! Skunkworks 2/18/10 1:25 PM
UPDATE:
 
THIS TRICK NO LONGER WORKS AS OF TWO DAYS AGO
 
Google voice has stopped handling privacy bits properly, so whether you dial *67 before calling your google voice number to dial out or not, your outbound CPN, Caller ID and ANI will all now display your real google voice number!
 
Obviously this makes just blocking your Caller ID over google voice impossible, which is obviously a major setback in privacy! Hopefully this will be fixed soon. I'll reply back to this thread if and when it is. I encourage you to submit a trouble ticket to google about not being able to block your Caller ID anymore if this continues for more than a few days.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! jasplayy 2/21/10 11:50 AM
^^ yup hes right it no longers works!

Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! all3ykat 3/3/10 3:53 PM
Thank you Skunkworks for your knowledge and for sharing this knowledge on this forum.  It seems you have researched other ways after MCI's number stopped working and they were effective for a short while but no longer are.  I respect and appreciate this.  Thanks man.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! tatiami 3/5/10 11:05 AM
Thank Skunkworks. You're absolutely right. Regardless your phone number is block or not blocking, when making a call thru GV, it shows the GV number. GV need to fix this problem.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! z32tt 4/10/10 12:36 PM
I don't this is a "actual" problem GV has!lol @ previous comment. Any new tricks related to this?
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! Makapav 5/6/10 9:09 PM
I have a slightly different but maybe related problem with using GV to call Lenovo toll free numbers. I was directed to this thread from my original post here:


Contents of the original post:

I have been using google voice for a while with my Android phone. Although I have gv toggle set to 'ask every time' 99% of all calls are made through gv except when I don't have internet connection for it to work.

Lately, I noticed that when I dial Lenovo's toll-free numbers (e.g. 1-866-968-4465) the receiving part never picks up and the ringing goes on forever until disconnect. However, when I call directly without gv or through a regular phone line the call connects.

This sounds like a codec/protocol mismatch issue.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! airbournone 5/28/10 9:24 AM
My experience dialing 800 numbers with GV accords with Makapav's post above- often rings with no answer and an eventual disconnection.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! trots 6/12/10 3:49 PM
As far as I know the vast majority of toll free numbers (or any phone number attached to a call center or computerized system)  get CPN data, not old fashioned "Real" ANI or BTN or anything like that anymore.  Anyway, with VoIP it's real easy to spoof your number to tollfree numbers.  Several carriers maintain open toll free gateways.  For example: tf.callwithus.com and proxy01.sipphone.com .  In your softphone or ATA, whatever 10 digit number you put into the userid field will become your CPN.  This means you probably don't want to mess up an active ata, so it is best to try it on a spare softphone.  Now call 1 800 444 4444  or via sip that is 18004444444(at)proxy01.sipphone.com .  Note that some softphones are somewhat crippled and do not allow dialing via sip uri.  Whatever your using for the userid is read back by MCI's system.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! Skunkworks 6/26/10 12:44 PM
Appears GV is once again producing similar results as from my initial post (meaning it is again possible to call toll-free numbers anonymously using GV)

The three digit ANI+CPN now seems to vary though, I've heard both 804 and 617 thus far.

@trots
interesting info!
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! shahugjghj 8/6/10 3:03 AM
anonymously using GV)

Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! smbyers 10/2/10 6:55 PM
I've dialed *67, my GV #, option 2, and then the # I want to call and it comes accros as unknown name/unknown number on caller ID.
Re: HOWTO: Call Toll-Free Numbers Anonymously with Google Voice! GW 2/4/11 8:37 AM
The *67 doesn't appear to be working now. However, if you are using GV from your cellphone that's a forwarding number on your account and dialing with the Google Voice app, you can block your caller ID. If your phone is set to hide your number, GV follows suit. I just tested this by calling my husband and he said the caller ID came up as "Unknown". 
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