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IDENTIFICATION OF GOOGLE VOICE NUMBERS
by Robert Scott, P.I.
Google's new free phone service, Google Voice, presents many of the same challenges to investigators and skiptracers as throwaway pre-paid cell phones. It's anonymous and untraceable (when desired) and can be easily abused by scammers, identity thieves, deadbeats and other undesirables.
When run through free Internet searches that identify the phone company and line type (like phonevalidator.com or fonefinder.net), a mixed set of results is returned. Roughly a third of the numbers come back as Bandwidth.com; and the rest come back to a variety of landline and cell carriers. (Bandwidth.com is a wholesale provider of VOIP service to other phone companies.)
But if an investigator also runs the phone number through a data source that knows if the number has been ported or not, the picture changes. These 60 per cent or so of numbers that originally come back to some phone company other than Bandwidth.com, in fact turn out to all be ported to Bandwidth.com.
To be able to tell if a phone number is ported or not, the investigator will need access to this type of lookup. It's a free search for subscribers at (my own) SkipSmasher.com. Other commercial data services may offer this type of search as well. (If you'd like to test a known Google Voice number at phonevalidator.com, try 502-517-9689.) A free virtual phone score tool can also be found at spydialer.com. It identifies numbers that have a likelihood of being a virtual phone line, be it Google Voice or elsewhere. (Find it at Spy Dialer by running a reverse phone lookup by name, then click the See More Details option.)
In summary, if an investigator does a lookup on a phone number and the telephone carrier comes back as Bandwidth.com, there's a strong possibility its a Google Voice number or other virtual phone service. However, this lookup will need to include a ported number check to be thorough. While it appears that all or nearly all Google Voice numbers are powered by Bandwidth.com, all Bandwidth.com numbers cannot be said to be Google Voice numbers as the company powers other providers of virtual phone numbers as well.
Robert Scott is a Los Angeles-based private investigator and creator of websites for private investigators, including SkipSmasher.com. Reprint permission.
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