As a database administrator, I have been working on various non-profit and for-profit projects in the past couple years. Recently, I have been managing a database for a reverse phone lookup company that helps discover the identities behind certain hard-to-find phone numbers, including unpublished mobile numbers. What I have noticed is that there are many government entities – both at local and federal levels that take advantage of this type of services. So, I decided to write this post and find out if any of you encountered the need to use a reverse directory in your work and I would appreciate if you could give a brief description of the situation at hand if possible. I have also done some research on this topic so I share the results below. And more importantly, if you need to use the database, simply shoot me a quick message and I will set up a free account for you.
The fact that there is no central directory of all various types of numbers and especially, cell phone numbers, makes it difficult to get a hold of someone or trace a phone number of someone when such a need arises. Privacy concerns and lack of cooperation among various mobile carriers are the main reasons why such a directory has never been established. While there are many private uses of reverse lookups, there may be also many legitimate public sector uses of such databases as the evidence suggests. The question is: why government entities, with the only exception of probably emergency services, do not have access to private phone number records. According to the 2006 MSNBC article titled: “Who’s buying cell phone records online? Cops“, local and federal level law-enforcement officials and even FBI routinely purchased cell phone lookups from private data providers to help in their investigations. A detailed cell phone tracer report with the name,address and previous addresses of the phone owner may cost up to $70.
There are certainly established legal procedures to obtain private phone records but too often there is no time to go through them when all you need is a quick lookup of someone’s cell phone number. So, the question is whether government employees should or should not have access to such records on a timely basis. For the most part, the answer depends on what these records are used for. Below I added a sample of the agencies that purchased access to the reverse database. It would be interesting to know why they needed that information.
A Sample of Gov. Agencies That Used The Reverse Phone Database
TVA.gov – Tennessee Valley Authority
KY.gov – Commonwealth of Kentucky
DHS.gov – Dept. of Homeland Security
IRS.gov – Internal Revenue Service
USDA.gov – United States Dept. of Agriculture
SSA.gov – The United States Social Security Administration
VA.gov – U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs
MECKLENBURGCOUNTYNC.gov – Mecklenburgcounty, NC
BOP.gov – Federal Bureau of Prisons
NPS.gov – U.S. National Park Service
RENO.gov – City of Reno, Nevada
BIA.gov – U.S. Dept. of Internal Indian Affairs