Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Operational Security - Phone Communication

My wife and I had dinner with "Prepper Tom" a few weeks back, and we discussed this topic. He suggested that I write a post concerning it, and this is the result.

It is unfortunate that our elected government has declared those of us who value the traditions of this country "extremists". The continued erosion of our rights, liberties, and safety do not bode well for our future. The MIAC report, the efforts to criminalize non-corporate farming and food production, the continued attacks on our constitutionally affirmed rights, and the wholesale looting of our wealth to benefit foreign banks signal the total disregard and contempt those in power, and their toadies in the entrenched bureaucracy, have for us, the common citizen.

It may become necessary for some of us to find alternate methods of communication.

The Federal Government has been granted and has openly seized sweeping powers to monitor electronic communications. These powers include the ability to monitor, without court approval or judicial oversight, telephone conversations.

Included below are some basic methods for assuring some modicum of privacy in telephone communications.

No method is failure proof. If agencies of the Federal Government are interested in you, they will go to great lengths to obtain whatever information they seek. Keep this in mind whenever you choose to transmit any information by whatever means.


Prepaid Phone Cards are available at many locations from supermarkets, liquor stores, and truck stops to the local convenience store. Do not always choose the lowest rate card. Some of these cards will force the caller to listen to advertisements before permitting the caller to actually make a call.

Not all prepaid phone cards will anonymize a caller’s number. They will frequently show the number associated with the phone being used. Cards that use traditional landlines to route calls will frequently report a correct caller ID. Cards that use VoIP networks will frequently display an incorrect caller ID.

There is not a definitive list of cards that display inaccurate caller IDs. However, prepaid Telus cards are known to display the number of the routing server or the access number used to place the call. Telus is a telecom company from Canada and their cards are distributed here in the United States.

Experiment with cards one purchases by calling a phone with caller ID. Keep a list of cards that do not display accurate caller IDs.

A safe method of experimentation is able to be conducted at a truck stop where banks of payphones are arranged. Few people will pay attention to an individual making repeated calls. Call one’s cell phone using the calling cards and see which ones display an accurate calling number. Switch one’s cell phone to vibrate to avoid annoying other patrons.

ALWAYS PAY CASH! Credit cards leave trails.

Try and avoid cards that are target marketed to specific ethnic or foreign national groups. These cards are used almost exclusively for international calling. There are unconfirmed rumors that the providers of these particular cards have come under pressure to “co-operate” with monitoring every call routed through their networks. This has been done under the guise of “anti-terrorism”.

Avoid cards that talk about “credits”. Stick to cards that describe their rates in cents per minute. The cards that use “credits” convert dollars spent to “credits” often with no adequate explanation of the rate of conversion. Sometimes one will find oneself paying more than if one had simply paid with coins.

Try and purchase cards from known service providers such as AT&T, Sprint, etc. The rates are frequently higher than the cut rate cards, but one will almost be guaranteed access. Some cut rate cards when used at a private payphone will still require a deposit of coins before one can even dial the 800 access number.

Some prepaid cards are able to be recharged. NEVER RECHARGE YOUR CARD! Recharging a calling card involves the use of a credit card. Once a credit card has been used, the phone card can be tied to the credit account, and then to the user.

Always dispose of expired cards! Do not keep them. Once a card has been recovered, it can be used to track every phone call made with the access number attached to the card. Destroy the card upon expiration, or if one feels one is in danger of being questioned or detained. Most cards are paper, and burn quite easily.

An example of disposing of a card: Enter a public restroom, torch the card, and toss it into the toilet and flush. Hold the handle down and make sure it goes down. Make sure the access or PIN number has been completely obliterated before tossing the card.

It is preferable to burn the card and flush the remnants into the sewage system rather than simply discarding it. The reason for this manner of disposal is the issue of residual fingerprints and DNA which might be recovered and used to aid an investigation.

Chewing and swallowing the card is discouraged due to the presence of toxic materials used in the manufacturing of the cards. It is also possible that the card may pass through one’s system somewhat intact and data may then be recovered from it. Not to mention, the authorities may choose to forcibly recover it by inducing vomiting, etc.

The burgeoning popularity of cell phones has resulted in the near death of the public pay phone. This coupled with the inability of most pay phones (this thanks to the war on drugs) to accept incoming calls makes use of the anonymous phone card troublesome for two people who are mobile. Payphone to payphone calls are becoming nearly impossible.

Using a phone card will usually entail calling from a payphone to a number attached to a fixed address, (home or a business) or a cell number. Calling a business, especially if it is a large business, is somewhat safer than calling a location with a single number. Once the call has been routed through the switchboard to a particular extension, it becomes more problematic to trace. It is also a fairly secure method to contact someone, using a prepaid card, via their cell phone as long as the caller is sure he or she is not under direct surveillance.

When calling any number attached to a fixed address, it is best to use some type of prearranged code. It doesn’t need to be complicated.

For example, let’s say that authorities visited you, and inquired as to the location of a person of interest. Of course being a good citizen, you politely informed them that you had no knowledge of that person. After the authorities have departed, you travel to a location, such as a bar or hotel, where a payphone is located. You then call the person of interest using the prepaid phone card. You say something like, “My big brother came by for a visit today. He said it was a good time to go on vacation, and that he would like to visit you while he was out there.” I think we can all understand what the message means, but just in case, “The authorities visited. Go disappear, they’re looking for you.”

After making the call, one visits the restroom, enters a stall, burns the card and drops it into the toilet and flushes. In this particular example, there is the possibility that one may have been followed. Do not retain potential evidence.

If one was followed and observed, the authorities will be able to request a dump on the phone used and determine what numbers were dialed from it.

In this situation, it would have been ideal for the person receiving the call to have had a throw away phone. This is a technique that will be described later.

Since one called the person of interest directly, if the phone card had been recovered, the authorities would be able to prove you made contact with their person of interest with the phone dump. There is the very real possibility one would find oneself being charged in some fashion.

If one resides in an urban area where payphones are more common, take the time to learn the locations of the phones in one’s area, and whether or not access is limited by time of day. Some phones are in the lobbies of buildings and subways that have limited access after a certain time. It is best to avoid using the same phone repeatedly. Rotate through the list of phones that you have, and do so in a random fashion. Be aware of surveillance cameras near the phones. Do not forget about cameras inside ATMs.


Prepaid cell phones, or disposable cell phones, are available from major retailers such as Sears, Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, and even 7-11.

Try and avoid buying them directly from service providers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, etc. Usually service providers will attempt to gather more information about you when you purchase the phone in order to attempt to sell you additional services.

Another consideration is that the service provider stores have little traffic, and very high quality surveillance camera equipment, and digital video recorders. Most stores DVRs are on a network and can be accessed offsite from a remote location. It is easy to review recordings to look for a particular person in this type of situation.

The reason this is important is because of the advent of facial recognition software. Even if one is moderately disguised, the software is able to determine, within a certain probability, ones identity IF files have been compiled on one and there is a photo to compare against the image that has been recovered from the recording.

Once a determination has been made as to the identity of an individual on the recording it is a simple matter of comparing the time date stamp on the recording against the record of purchases. A reasonable number of possible disposable phone sales will be waded through, and the phone purchased will be found.

Try to shop at high traffic, high volume stores. As much as I detest Wal-Mart, I do buy disposable phones from them. The reason I do so is due to the large volume of foot traffic within the store. It is easier to blend into a crowd.

Wal-Mart security cameras are mounted high above the floor (sometimes as much as sixteen feet), and thus if you are wearing a simple baseball cap or even better, a Boonie Hat, it makes it difficult to get a good face shot. Most cameras in Wal-Mart are fixed. That means that there isn’t any pan, tilt, or zoom function.

Many Wal-Mart stores in low-risk areas (typically rural or affluent suburban locations) have a single security person on site. The cameras in these locations frequently run unattended. This means usually they are recording the entrance and exit, and the register areas. The field of view is relatively wide, and detail is lost.

Buy the most basic of phones. Stay away from the ones with cameras and all the other stuff that gets added on. It isn’t needed, and they cost more. Definitely avoid using the text function. Text messages are stored on a server, and can be retrieved. Remember, one is seeking a means of voice communication.

ALWAYS PAY CASH! Credit cards leave trails.

The cost can be as low as $9.99 (on-sale) for a phone and ten to thirty minutes of talk time depending on the carrier. Usually the cost is somewhere in the $19.99 to $29.99 range.

Do not buy more than one phone at a time. You WILL attract attention. Cell phones have been adapted for many purposes including detonating remote controlled munitions. Employees have been instructed to watch for people purchasing multiple phones.

If one needs more than one phone, travel to other locations to buy them, or spread one’s purchases out over time. If it is possible, use a straw buyer.

ALWAYS PAY CASH! Credit cards leave trails!

Buy cards for additional time, but buy the low cost, short duration airtime cards (GO Phone has $15.00 cards). The reason for this strategy is if one ever needs to dispose of the phone, one won’t be out a large chunk of money on unused airtime. One will be able to apply the unused cards still in ones possession on another phone, as long as it is on the same service.

Once one has one’s phone, use it only to call another disposable phone. Again, USE YOUR DISPOSIBLE PHONE ONLY TO CALL ANOTHER DISPOSIBLE PHONE!

It is easy for agencies to monitor traditional land line phones. It is more difficult for them to pick out a cell phone to monitor. It is even more difficult for them to do so when they don’t know the number of the cell phone they’re looking for. You need to keep this situation in your favor.

Do NOT call a regular cell phone!

Do NOT call a number for a home or business!

It is relatively safe to accept an incoming call from a payphone as long as there is some certainty that the person calling is not under surveillance.

If one should happen to call a number that is being monitored, one’s previously unknown number will be known. One’s phone does not need GPS in order to locate one. In some cases, it doesn’t even have to be turned on. All it has to have is the battery installed.

IF one does call a regular cell number, home, or business number using one’s disposable phone, one will potentially put everyone within one’s group at risk. Once one’s number, is known, the call history will be searched. Then the history of every number in one’s call history will be searched. Then a search for the phones on the network will be conducted, and an attempt to determine every phone’s location will be made. Once the phone’s locations have been determined, a comparison against the databases that list places of residence and employment of people of interest will be made. At this point it may be possible to deduce who has these phones. It is easy to begin monitoring these phones at this point.

Do not store phone numbers in the phone. Memorize them. Always delete the call history from the phone after each call. Yes, the call list can still be retrieved unless the SIM card is destroyed, but why make it easy for them?

If there is the possibility that a phone or phones have been compromised, destroy them.

Destroying a phone is relatively simple. However, there are some things to keep in mind.

Remove the battery. This is for one’s safety. Batteries have been known to catch fire or explode if damaged. Remove the SIM card from the phone. Instructions for removing the SIM card are available on the internet. Conduct a search for you particular manufacturer and model of phone.

If one is able to remove any identifying marks that may be present on the battery, retain it if one has a phone that can use it. It is always helpful to have a spare battery, otherwise, dispose of the battery.

Fire is a good way to destroy the phone, but even small phones will take some time using a torch. If there is time, a torch is the preferred method.

If not, smash the phone using a heavy object or hammer. Scatter the remains over several locations. Throw parts away at gas stations, convenience stores, along side the roadway and in significant bodies of water. Just do not throw all of it out in one waste container where it will be easy to recover. Try and eliminate any of the decals that have serial numbers, barcodes, etc.

Most critical information used in one’s phone is stored in the SIM. It is imperative that this card be destroyed. The best method for destroying the SIM is a torch. However, use whatever method is available. Another expedient method is using a set of jumper cables and a car battery. Be extremely cautious when using this method. It is best to connect the jumper cables to the SIM, then one side of the cables to the positive terminal of the battery. TOUCH the other side of the cable to the negative terminal BRIEFLY. Repeat as necessary.


This is not a definitive list. Service providers are always in flux with some failing, being acquired, and new ones starting up. Search the web often. The term “spoofing” means masquerading using another ID.

Spoofcard allows one to change one’s voice, caller ID number, and record calls which can be later retrieved. There is an option to locate retailers in your area on the home page. Again, PAY WITH CASH.

Telespoof is similar to Spoofcard.

Caller ID spoofing.

Currently in BetaTesting. Owned by Google. “One number to control them all.”

Get a number anywhere in the world.

Designed for social networking sites. Now a pay service. Used to be free.

Anonymous, temporary phone numbers. Callers to the number pay the fee.

Similar to oncetel.

Full service Free VoIP.

Reveals Blocked Caller ID numbers


One tactic to ensure as much privacy as possible without using scramblers and encryption on phone calls is to use a pair of new disposable phones. Ideally only two people or two groups of people will know of the existence of these phones.

Agree on a prearranged call in time. Agree on who is to call whom. Agree on a pass phrase to signal whether a person is safe or under coercion. Set a time window when the phones will be on. It is best if the calls are not made from a base of operations in case a phone has been compromised. Avoid using actual names of people during the conversation. When the call is completed, turn the phone off and remove the battery. This will limit the ability of the phone to be located on a network.

It is best to also arrange a drop dead date ahead of time with all parties. If calls are made, and not answered at the designated time, or the recipient never receives a call, set a maximum number of days where attempts will be made using the phones. If the drop dead date passes with no word, assume the phone has been compromised and destroy it.

If possible set a life expectancy on phones. Destroy used phones, and place new ones into service at regular intervals. This can become expensive and troublesome, but it is a tactic to be considered.

When it becomes necessary to charge the battery in a phone, place the phone inside of a Mylar bag. View the signal strength indicator to ensure that the phone has no signal. The phone may also be placed inside of a surplus ammo can during the charging process. Ensure the lid on the ammo can is able to be closed without severing the wires from the charger. Both the can and the Mylar bag act as a Faraday cage which shields items from electromagnetic signals.

This act is to guard against your phone being turned on remotely. Yes, they can do that. The phone will then be able to relay your location, and also be used as a "bug" to monitor audio in your location.

Earlier in the article, a throw away phone was mentioned. This is a phone that is set aside to allow a person to be alerted to danger. It is not used for any other purpose. No calls are made to it, or from it, except for the express purpose of giving warning. Once a warning has been received or transmitted, the phone is to be destroyed.

If an individual has multiple phones of the same type, place innocuous distinguishing marks on each of the phones to aid oneself in keeping track of which phone is which. A scratch here, or a missing piece of trim there will aid in identifying a phone without outwardly signaling to others there is something unusual about the phones. Also having similar phones disguises how many phones a person may be carrying.

One other neat use for a cheap, disposable phone, is as a "bug". Make sure the phone has a full charge. Turn off the ringer, the vibrate feature, and the backlight on the display. Set the phone to auto-answer (the phone will open a connection after a set number of rings). Hide the phone in the area you wish to monitor. Dial into the phone as needed to hear the activity in the room.


ErinAndBrad said...

Fantastic! Thank you Cat - you are so smart in this stuff - I will be printing this out tomorrow - to tired tonight! Great post!

soldierman57 said...

hey there, just great information and i will use it i also have radios that switch freq,so they cant enter on them just like the armys,frist time been here it was great there catman thanks

Maitreya said...

Great advice Catman. Unfortunately it looks like we're going to need it.
I ALWAYS pay cash already, and will get a disposable phone once I hit the road.
I really enjoyed this post. Stay safe.

Anonymous said...

I am really glad I bumped into this post. It does make things quite clear and will give me some precautions especially when buying phone cards or cellphones.

HermitJim said...

Hey Catman...I'm glad yo took the time to explain this. I thought I knew most of it, but I see that I didn't. Education that I need and can use...

I appreciate it, my friend!

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nitewalker said...

Catman,that is a fine piece of work and info we may need sooner rather than later if things keep on the present path. Thank you my friend for your time, great job.

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Ken said...

...priceless info yet again,thanx Brother...

Anonymous said...

I read your blog regarding phones, much of it but not all. My word, is our world this bad? What would a person be doing to be this paranoid? At least this all seems like paranoia to me. Surely to God things can't be this bad; I live daily life about as always. said...

Interesting post and blog.

A nice technology you might want to check out is the voip/gsm gateway.

This enables a user to send and receive calls over the gsm network but does not require you to be in the same physical location as the gsm card.

This is an interesting technology that can have all sorts of applications. I believe it is relevant to this blog because agents, and authorities, of the sate use gsm locations records from mobile providers for all sorts of reasons.

For anyone interested in VoIP telephone numbers, please also feel free to check out us out - - virtual numbers

regards - josh