Phone Records (Updated)

Often in the course of our investigation we will discover the telephone numbers of alleged witnesses to an offense. If the witnesses use cellphones, we can get a wealth of useful information about them from their cellphone records.

Start with FoneFinder. If you enter the area code and exchange (first three digits after the area code) into the first two boxes and hit “search by number,” you’ll get a page showing you the telephone company that originally owned that number. It may have since been transferred to another provider, but we can start by assuming that it was not.

Update: start with NANPA.

With the number and provider, we can issue a subpoena to the cellphone service provider for billing records (including the identity of the subscriber) and toll records (incoming and outgoing calls). Using this information, we can make otherwise-unknown connections among various witnesses witnesses, and between a witness and other people. For example, in an aggravated assault case I showed that, in the time between the alleged crime and the complainant’s report to the police, the complainant had called various personal injury lawyers; this suggested that the possibility of a civil suit drove the making of the police report.

We can also subpoena records of the cell towers that the cellphone had contact with; this will help us determine approximately (the margin of error might be miles) where the cellphone was at a given time. So, for example, we might be able to show that the witness’s cellphone was nowhere near where she claims to have been at the time of the incident.

One free site that provides subpoena addresses for telephone companies is here; call first — those addresses might not be current. That site does not provide information for Verizon. To subpoena Verizon records (in a criminal case only), fax your subpoena to:

Custodian of Records
Verizon Cellco Partnership, d/b/a Verizon Wireless
Subpoena Compliance
180 Washington Valley Road
Bedminster, NJ 07921
Fax (888) 667-0028
Voice (800) 451-5242

Then follow up with a phone call.

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