Review: TrapCall Caller ID Unblocking Services

trapcall_logo.pngTrapCall, a new CallerID unblocking service from TelTech Systems, offers a convenient, easy to use (and free) method for US-based AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers to discover information about who is calling them and blacklist those callers they don’t want to hear from.

In addition, TrapCall subscribers can sign up for paid monthly service add-ons that will transcribe voicemail to text and send it in SMS and/or email, provide the calling telephone number’s billing name and address, and allow for easy recording and storing of incoming telephone conversations for later review.

We checked out TrapCall’s premium service options and have a full review of our experience after the jump.

To begin with, signing up for TrapCall is easy and intuitive. In just a few steps you can be up and running with a 15 day free trial of TrapCall’s full suite of services using their simple, uncluttered web sign-up form.

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We signed up last week on the day the service was announced, which led to some glitches in receiving calls after CallerID had been unblocked, but TrapCall’s technical support responded to our emailed trouble ticket within a few hours, and inside of 24 hours the service was up and running as advertised.

During normal business hours, the service offers LiveChat support that was, on the two occasions we used it, responsive, although the chat operators were less than familiar with the ins and outs of the service and both sessions ended with our being told to send email to the support department.

Again, response to email support was timely and answered our questions clearly and satisfactorily.

TrapCall relies on a loophole in US telecommunications law that allows owners of toll-free numbers to receive caller ID information even from phone numbers on which the caller ID is blocked by the subscriber.

When you sign up for TrapCall, you program your phone to conditionally forward rejected phone calls to TrapCall’s toll-free number. When a call comes in as “Blocked” or “Unknown” you are instructed to reject the call, which is forwarded to TrapCall’s toll-free server, where the caller ID blocking is stripped away, and the call is then re-sent to your phone, showing the number of the telephone subscriber calling you.

At that point you can choose to either take the call or allow it to go to voicemail as normal.

When the service was announced last week privacy advocates expressed concern that people who might have good reasons to retain the confidentiality of their calling phone number — such as victims of domestic violence who must contact their abusers pursuant to court-ordered child custody arrangements — could face unintended consequences of unwittingly exposing their caller ID when calling TrapCall subscribers.

Ironically, TelTech also offers SpoofCard, another product which has been available for about a year, that allows subscribers to set their caller ID to a number different than the number registered with the caller’s service provider. A SpoofCard subscriber is then theoretically able to overcome the identity-discovering functionality offered to TrapCall subscribers.

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Additional privacy concerns could attend those who opt for TrapCall’s voicemail transcription services, which TelTech claims is performed by actual human beings rather than machines. In order to sign-up for voicemail transcription you must acknowledge that someone will be listening to your voicemail and agree to permit such in order to receive the transcribed messages.

Whether messages are actually being transcribed by real people or by machines, it’s clear that no one spends a lot of time listening to your voicemail because, in our tests, messages left for us hit our email and test messaging systems within moments of being left, and were filled with the gaps and errors you would expect, especially on messages left by non-native English speakers or by people who speak quickly.

The call recording option raises yet more privacy issues, especially in the light of inconsistent state law regarding the legality of recording phone calls, as well as the notice and consent that must be given for recordings to be made legally.

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TrapCall offers recording on incoming calls only, with recordings made either with or without automatic notice being given to callers — the option is set in the web-based subscriber dashboard. The automatic notice informs callers they are calling a TrapCall subscriber who has chosen to record incoming telephone calls. Callers are then given the option of either hanging up or proceeding with the phone call and having it recorded.

Call recordings made by the service are clear and noise-free, and can be easily played back from the web-based subscriber dashboard or downloaded to your local computer as mp3 files.
Recorded voicemails are also stored, even when you have them transcribed to text, and can be played from the dashboard or downloaded as mp3 files.

The bottom line is that TrapCall offers an easy-to-use, effective way to manage incoming calls to your personal phone number. Its marquee service, the unmasking of blocked caller ID, as well as the useful blacklisting of unwanted calls can both be had for free, which makes TrapCall, in this reviewer’s opinion, worth checking out.

A free 15 day trial on the premium voicemail and call recording capabilities also makes TrapCall worth exploring, especially because you’re reminded every time you log on when your trial period will expire, and you have on-line options for both canceling and downgrading your subscription package.

You can un-program the conditional call-forwarding on your phone at any time with a few keystrokes, as well.

TrapCall does not support Sprint, Verizon, Canadian or UK carriers at the present time, though a TelTech spokesman told us the company is working on expanding coverage in the US and Canada “in the near future.” The company has no plans to offer the service in the UK or other international countries.

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  • LobDog

    The text conversion actually works great for me, I changed my greeting to say something to the effect of “Hey it’s me, this voicemail is being sent to me as a text message so please speak clearly”. The only problem is now my mom leaves me messages in an e x t r e m e l y .. s l o w robot voice 🙂

  • Karma E. S.

    TrapCall? More like “TrapCustomer”!

    Here’s MY experience. Read this if you’re a T-Mobile customer:

    I’d been using T-Mobile for years with call forwarding from my landline to my cell, but as soon as I tried the app and then cancelled TrapCall service (with the #004# and ##004# codes), the thing wouldn’t uninstall!!! For months (and still to THIS day), every single call to my biz line shows “Incoming Call Forwarded”…which I have to MANUALLY “DISMISS” for EVERY SINGLE CALL, INCLUDING every single missed call.

    When I called for support and spoke to a guy named “LUCKY” (fill in your own joke here, like is that his stage name?), he was totally arrogant and dismissive, stonewalling me even though he KNEW it was a problem with TrapCall but just wouldn’t admit it or that they were working on it (or even interested). Told him the app apparently was NOT uninstalled since I never had “Incoming Call Forwarded” BEFORE signing up for the app (ie not in the previous 8 years of T-Mobile service) …and now it wouldn’t STOP showing that even after the service was “uninstalled”. It was like I was still on his server (trap customer) …who knows, maybe “Incoming Call Forwarded” to their server still recording a copy? “Lucky” actually had the nerve to tell me the equivalent of “Why does it matter, it’s just a message you see on your screen” when he called me back to test my line from his New Jersey number. I told him “Yeah! And it’s EVERY SINGLE CALL for months since I cancelled the service that I have to manually hit “DISMISS”, including every dang missed call”. For example, in an average day, if we get 10 missed calls during a meeting, and check our phone, we have to manually hit “Dismiss” TEN TIMES…BEFORE we can even do ANYthing on our phone, like check messages. So it’s not just some stupid inconvenience that lasts forever. It’s a big convenience that lasts forever, like if an app could give you herpes. Maybe I should have spent my money at a strip club instead… at least my phone would be clean, lol 😉
    According to Lucky, there is no cure.

    So…if you get that itch…look for another call unblocking application. There’s a lot of them out there.

    Total nightmare if you’re a T-Mobile customer who uses call forwarding.

  • Anon

    This Karma ES guy is just a moron who jailbroke his phone and didn’t edit his carrier.plist correctly. It’s a common issue on iphones and has nothing to do with TrapCall.

    http://www.hackint0sh.org/pwnagetool-159/2-0-1st-gen-incoming-call-forwarded-message-displayed-46696.htm

    Post#9 of that thread:

    look under Carrier bundles ( /system/library/ ) find your carrier bundle or if you are in unsupported country you are using Unknown bundle , in any case there is carrier.plist in the bundle …edit “ShowCallForwarded” to NO and “ShowCallForwarding” to NO save to the phone and restart.

    For those who are lazy Unknown bundle edited to not show call forwarding

    h**p://rapid$hare.com/files/133000993/Unknown.bundle.zip.html

    http://www.hackint0sh.org/pwnagetool-159/2-0-1st-gen-incoming-call-forwarded-message-displayed-46696.htm