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mellymel
05-15-2012, 06:06 AM
I've never owned one of these and did some research on it, but I have specific questions that I'm not finding answers to.

When someone w/a pre-paid cell phone calls/texts someone, what comes up on the other person's phone? Is it just a phone number? Does it say unavailable? Unlisted? Something else?

Do these pre-paid phones come with a set phone number? What would the area code be? Would it depend on where you bought it or where it's activated? If not, do you know how the area code is decided?

Do they come with voicemail? Or is that an option on some but not on others?

Thanks so much!

Allen R. Brady
05-15-2012, 06:45 AM
On one that I used, the Caller ID came up as "NY Cell Phone". The area code was for New York, and the phone number came with it. It did indeed have voicemail.

Snick
05-15-2012, 07:03 AM
Whether caller id works depends on the system.

Generally, one can select a number - area code and city code, but the last four digits are what's available.

BenPanced
05-15-2012, 07:26 AM
When I got my pre-paid cell phone, the number was given to me. I had no choice in it.

Depending on the phone, it can have as many features as you need for as much as you're willing to pay. I pay $35 a month for a BlackBerry with 300 minutes talk time and unlimited data transfer (up to 2.5GB), voice mail, and call waiting (it'd be $25 but I'm getting a $10 surcharge for having a BlackBerry). As far as caller ID goes, I think that would show according to what sort of phone you have and how you have the settings.

http://www.virginmobileusa.com/

DancingMaenid
05-15-2012, 08:11 AM
The caller ID depends, I think. I had a TracFone for ages, as did my mom. I can't remember the models we had, but since we were in each other's contacts, I'm pretty sure our names showed up on each other's caller IDs when we called. When my mom called me at home, the land line caller ID would just show her number, I think. It didn't give a name, but I doesn't give a name now that she has a phone with a contract, either.

As for the number, with mine I just got one assigned to me. The main one I had was with my local area code, but at one point I got a new phone and it gave me a number with a totally different one.

Mine had voicemail. I think that's a pretty common feature, but it depends on the phone you get.

lorna_w
05-15-2012, 05:36 PM
On mine, incoming calls from unknown people give me the number--but I never asked anyone else what mine says, as I only call businesses or people I know, who have attached my name to the number and get my name when I text them.

I bought mine in a neighboring state. When I activated it, I called in and they asked "where are you most often" and I told them in another state, and they gave me an area code there. I probably couldn't have said in another country, but otherwise, I could have said anywhere, just made up a locale I've never been to if I wished, and they did not care. I assume there's a list of available numbers assigned to each company by area code and they just gave me the next on the list.

Voicemail is automatic on mine, automatic mesage on that until I changed it. Texting, by the way, only costs .3 of a minute for up to 150 characters. And also, with my odd lifestyle, I'm often in very remote places, and I always have the strongest signal. Other people have one bar, I have three or four. I think this is because this company piggybacks/buys into everyone else's signal, picks the strongest, and that's what I get.

mellymel
05-15-2012, 05:40 PM
Great info guys! This has been very helpful.

shadowwalker
05-15-2012, 05:43 PM
I got mine many, many years ago. My brother bought in one area code, but the number was in mine. The 7 digit number bears no relation to the ones in use in my town, however. It does have voicemail and text (which I've never learned to use) - it can be set to show the number or remain private when you call someone. But basically they're just like any other cell phone, except you don't have a contract for a set monthly fee.

I've heard TV shows refer to 'throwaway phones' or 'disposable phones' - not sure what they mean by that, though. Assuming it means you buy the phone by paying for so many minutes and then it's useless. But like I say, have no idea really. :tongue

Forlorn Radiance
05-15-2012, 06:13 PM
Lots of experience here....

Number depends on the company and (as times progress) more prepaid phones allow you to choose your area code and the first 3 digits, while others (especially older ones) came with a base number.

Caller I.D. depends not only on the phone you are calling with (prepaid phone) but also the caller I.D itself, as they all work slightly different.

Some prepaid phones are by the minute but they now have month plans (even some unlimited) where you purchase online and make a monthly payment over the net. These ones are actually most likely to show your name on caller I.D. because your name is attached to the account.

For the most part, as long as you stay consistent, it really shouldn't matter how you use this in your story as it will be believable either way. Just make sure you follow through. Hope this helps!

mellymel
05-15-2012, 09:43 PM
Lots of experience here....

Number depends on the company and (as times progress) more prepaid phones allow you to choose your area code and the first 3 digits, while others (especially older ones) came with a base number.

Caller I.D. depends not only on the phone you are calling with (prepaid phone) but also the caller I.D itself, as they all work slightly different.

Some prepaid phones are by the minute but they now have month plans (even some unlimited) where you purchase online and make a monthly payment over the net. These ones are actually most likely to show your name on caller I.D. because your name is attached to the account.

For the most part, as long as you stay consistent, it really shouldn't matter how you use this in your story as it will be believable either way. Just make sure you follow through. Hope this helps!

Thanks, so here's the thing re: my story. It's a YA Thriller/Horror, and my MC gets a text--a strange, (sort of threatening) one that she doesn't really understand at this point. The person/stalker/killer who makes the text obviously doesn't want to be found out, so when my MC gets the text, naturally, she looks to see who it's from. So, I'm trying to figure out what she would see (or what possible things could come up) when she looks at who the text is from. I originally had it as, Unavailable, but I don't know if that's what would actually come up on a text. The "villain" would make sure that the MC couldn't figure out who it is (she wouldn't call the police at this point because she doesn't really understand the message and just chalks it up to some idiot messin' around) and when she tries calling the number (if a number would in fact come up), it would either just ring and ring or it would go to voicemail with no message to indicate whose phone it is.

Also, since they seem to be like regular phones, I would assume it has a mute feature, right? (smack me for dumbness of that question PLEASE!).

Lastly, when you purchase these phones, can you do it by cash? Do you have to be a certain age to purchase one and/or the minutes? Can it all be done by cash and walking into a place (like Radio Shack) to put more money on the account?

Thanks again everyone!

Flicka
05-15-2012, 10:07 PM
I think you're American? Because you use 'cell phone'? I'm not american so I don't know about what packages your operators usually offer end users but I do know how a mobile/cell phone network operates.

I think you're confusing 'phone' and 'sim card'. The phone is a device, but the number etc is tied to the sim card. The sim card contains the info the mobile network needs to know which handheld radio reciever/transmitter (aka phone) that belings to you, but a sim card can be put into any kind of phone. If it has a 'mute' function or not has nothing to do with the fact that you have prepaid a certain amount of time or not. It's all about which phone you use it in - basic phone or iPhone? It may be that American operators bundle prepaid calls with a plain phone, but it's nothing to do with the prepaid-ness in itself. Either which way, there will likely be a number connected to the sim card (no idea how the American numbering plan works but I'm fairly sure your subscrption will have a number tied to it) but whether or not it's shown or not is likely at the operators discretion. There's no technical reason why it couldn't be though.

Calla Lily
05-15-2012, 10:11 PM
melly, I asked something similar several months back. Here's the link to the thread: Phone call tracing setup (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=213287&highlight=callalily61). My OP was different, but I think the answers might help. :)

mellymel
05-16-2012, 12:18 AM
Flicka, thanks for the info!

Callalily, thanks so much. I read through the thread, but your situation was def way more complicated than mine LOL. This is just someone basically pranking her through text and I don't want the MC to know who it's from or when she tries calling the number, she's still unable to figure out who sent the text.

I just basically need to know what would come up on my MCs cell phone (mobile phone? :)) when she receives the call.

jclarkdawe
05-16-2012, 12:40 AM
I'm not really sure what you're trying to accomplish, and I'm not sure how talented your killer is. This can get very complicated, and virtually untraceable.


Thanks, so here's the thing re: my story. It's a YA Thriller/Horror, and my MC gets a text--a strange, (sort of threatening) one that she doesn't really understand at this point. The person/stalker/killer who makes the text obviously doesn't want to be found out, so when my MC gets the text, naturally, she looks to see who it's from. So, I'm trying to figure out what she would see (or what possible things could come up) when she looks at who the text is from. I originally had it as, Unavailable, but I don't know if that's what would actually come up on a text. Have the phone number come up. With a prepaid phone, you don't have to give your name in setting up the phone. Area code for the cell phone is whatever area you say you use the most, which means you can buy a phone in California and have a New York area code. Phone companies buy blocks of numbers from the FCC, but will have numbers in any area code where the company provides coverage.

The "villain" would make sure that the MC couldn't figure out who it is (she wouldn't call the police at this point because she doesn't really understand the message and just chalks it up to some idiot messin' around) and when she tries calling the number (if a number would in fact come up), it would either just ring and ring or it would go to voicemail with no message to indicate whose phone it is. If the villain has any sense, the villain uses the phone once, then gets rid of it. But virtually every phone company provides voice mail with a recorded message that doesn't identify a thing. Personally I'd use the phone once illegally, then put it on a tractor-trailer and let it go for a ride. As long as the phone is on (up to about ten days until the battery dies), the phone can be traced by the GPS to within fifty feet of its location. You can pick up a NET10 LG300 with 750 Minutes Card, Refurbished (http://www.walmart.com/ip/NET10-LG300-with-750-Minutes-Card-Reconditioned/17113659) for $25 from Wal-Mart. Use once and throw away is a lot cheaper then going to jail.

Also, since they seem to be like regular phones, I would assume it has a mute feature, right? (smack me for dumbness of that question PLEASE!). I'm assuming you mean the ring tone as opposed to the fact that the microphone doesn't pick up. You can set ring tone to volume on virtually any phone, and most have a vibrate mode. Most of the prepaid phones are exactly the same as any other cell phones. The cheaper prepaid phones are phones that customers who want the latest and newest and have returned their phones. The phones are refurbished and that's how you can pick up one for $25.

Lastly, when you purchase these phones, can you do it by cash? Cash, credit card, doesn't matter. However, reputable stores will record the serial number of the phone, which is tied back to the SIM card. When the phone is used, the police can then trace back to where and when it was purchased, and many stores use a lot of video so your smiling face could be captured on camera. If I was being really cautious, I'd buy phones from the back of someone truck. Probably stolen, but there are also burn phones easily available. These phones are next to impossible even for someone like the CIA to trace.

Do you have to be a certain age to purchase one and/or the minutes? Depends upon the store's policy, but I know kids who've bought them at age twelve. (Actually I should say I know their parents, who were not happy campers when they found out.) Most high school students will know what store(s) in their area will sell to them.

Can it all be done by cash and walking into a place (like Radio Shack) to put more money on the account? Normally, you get a little card that you have to punch the number into the cell phone. But yeah, any store that sells them. Which ranges from places like Best Buy, Radio Shack, or Wal-Mart to places like Cumberland Farms and 7-11.

Thanks again everyone!

I'd invest some money in my story and go out and buy one, then play around with it. Buy a phone that comes with some prepaid minutes and you'll only be out about $25.

This is the simple approach. Depending upon what your story needs, we can make this a lot more complicated to accomplish various things. For instance, you might want to have the victim be able to leave a voice mail message for you. Or you might want to make this really complicated to trace where the phone came from.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

mellymel
05-16-2012, 01:29 AM
Awww, Jim. Thank you so much. Your answers were very helpful and I appreciate you answering each one the way you did. This is not meant to be too complicated and is such a minor part of the story. In fact, the text message comes in the very first chapter and there will possibly only be one other (and then the phone will be dumped on a an interstate traveling truck ;)) .

Thanks again everyone! I think I've gotten all the info I need and thank you ALL for taking the time to respond.

Mel