Answers to common cell phone related questions

How can I recover information from a broken phone?

If they are not on a sim card and instead reside on the phone's hard drive you will most likely need to hire an electronic data recovery firm.

Data recovery firms have been around since the 90′s when they began helping businesses and consumers recover information off failed computer hard drives. With many consumer's moving to smart phones, consumers are storing more information on their phones than ever before. The consequence to this is, when a phone corrupts (or in this case falls in a pool), there is more at risk.

A quick search online returns the following companies offering data recovery service for cell phones (Reminder, this is not a formal endorsement of any service.):

Is there a method to block an app on my phone from displaying information when someone calls?

Smartphones such as Google Android powered phones and iPhones allow apps to freely be added and/or discarded. The process for removing an app depends on your phone's software but it may be done as easily as a slow clicking on the icon (holding down for a few seconds) and then clicking either the minus symbol, trash can or uninstall link. Often you do, you will likely be prompted to confirm this deletion. Once confirmed the app should no longer interfere with the information displayed on your phone.

Now, if you wanted to keep the app but just block this action from occurring, you may be able to do this. This requires editing your preferences in the apps settings, assuming the app makes this editable.

Unfortunately, a lot of apps such as this package additional "features" such as this in their software. These can become annoyances for the user and while some are good about making disabling preferences available others are not.

What are options for selling a used cell phone?

You can start by listing your phone on Craigslist. Now, if shipping is not a problem for you and you are comfortable accepting payment from someone you have never seen before, there is also eBay. While eBay does charge a fee, offering local pickup may be a way for you to make more money.

Now, if you are someone that does not feel comfortable selling your phone to an individual or you have several phones sitting around that you would like to get rid of without listing out the details of each. There are a few new services which will buy your cell phones with the hopes of selling it (for a profit) to someone else. One of the most well known is a company that I have used called Gazelle. Using the model number of your cell phone, Gazelle will provide you an estimate of what they will pay you and then if you decide to sell it they will send prepaid postage and packing materials. The one thing I would caution you on is the price which these services typically offer is lower than what you will make selling it to an end user.

Using prepaid phones -

First, let me start by addressing why this might happen. Often prepaid minutes have an expiration date, hit that date or let your minute balance go to zero and you run the risk of your service provider expiring your phone number. The reason they do this is because there are a finite number of 10-digit phone numbers. By expiring the number of an orphaned phone they can help preserve the number for a new user. Typically, there is a grace period of several months before a service provider will reclaim a number but this varies by provider so check with them first.

Now as for getting a new phone number for a prepaid phone, you will need to add minutes to your phone and have a service provider reactivate it. When they reactivate your phone they will issue you a new number.

As with traditional cell phones most prepaid service providers have specific phones that they work with. If you know what service your phone uses (ie Verizon, AT&T, etc) you just need to visit that service's local retailer. If you don't know which service your phone uses you probably want to visit a retailer who works with multiple service providers, a national retailer like BestBuy may be able to help.

Information on storing my info online -

If you are one of the millions of cell phone subscribers who are now using an Apple or Android Smart Phone, you may be in luck. That is because these phones usually come equipped with online backup software.

Android phones, which require a Google account to be used with them, usually have a default option to back up the phone contacts to your Gmail account (Gmail, is Google's free email account. When you create a Google account you are also creating a Gmail account).

Apple iPhones running the latest software do something similar to Android phones, backing up contacts and apps within your iTunes account. In Apple's case this is option called iCloud which is usually presented during the activation process.

If you are not using one of these smart phones you may be out of luck, but if you are it may be possible to find the contacts you are looking for online.

Why does my car's GPS unit take longer to find my location than it does for my phone?

Your cell phone is constantly tracking your location so calls are able to reach you. Your GPS unit does not follow that same kind of architecture. The GSP network acts by finding you from scratch when you turn it on. The GPS has to look for certain signals directly from the satellites, after which it needs to compare the timing between when those signals are received to accurately plot your position. Most people do not leave these units on all the time or their in-dash units are started when the car is given power, so that process needs to start over each time.

You phone's network architecture is different. It tends to "cheat" if you will. Before you start worrying about whether your phone is tracking you or not, remember the mobile device needs to be able to connect with 911 and other emergency services in a timely manner. Now, all mobile phone systems are programmed to plot your location within a 150 meter radius. Bear in mind this is done quicker since you phone has been logging your calls and the satellites being used to triangulate your position have been continually supplying your phone with the available service (not to mention they are on Earth and not floating in space). This gives the mobile device a pretty good idea of where to look even before the GPS gets started. If you are by a Wi-Fi supplying location, your iPhone's Skyhook Wireless feature can aid to narrow that position down even more.

Who Invented The Cell Phone?

In the late 1940's the idea for the first cell phones were conceived. It was revolutionary to think that a phone could travel with you wherever you go. The scientists believed it could be done though. In the beginning the FCC were not very helpful. They wouldn't allot enough radio spectrum frequencies to make the project a success. When the FCC did finally agree to give their cooperation, AT&T led the way researching how they could make mobile phones more than an idea. But this doesn't answer the question of who invented the cell phone?

The inventor of the cell phone is Dr. Martin Cooper who is a former Motorola employee. He is credited with inventing the first phone that you could take with you. He was successful with making the first phone call ever on a mobile phone in 1973. He placed his call to his rival Joel Engel who happened to be the head of research for the Bell Labs. Bell Laboratories was the first to develop the idea of a mobile phone with the technology used mainly between police cruisers to help them communicate. Dr. Cooper was the first one to use the technology in a phone that was portable and would work anywhere.

The first phone was known as the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X. It looked nothing like the cell phones we have today. It weighed about two pounds and was a foot long. They were also very expensive at $4000 that only the military and businesses had access to them. It took ten years for them to start making it out into the public. We all know what happened after that. Cell phones took off fast and are still becoming more popular every day.

There were other phones that were available prior to Dr. Cooper's invention but they were very difficult to use. They required heavy equipment and could only be used in a vehicle, they also had a limited range. Today cell phones are better than ever and will continue to get better as time goes by.

A phone's serial number -

The "MIN" number stands for "Mobile Identification Number". As for what it is, think phone number… This number is not always the same as your personal phone number, but often it is. In either case, it is a tool used by some wireless service providers (ie Verizon Wireless) to help them distinguish their customers, and their phones, from one another.

The reason only "some" wireless providers use this is there are two different types of identification numbers wireless providers can use the MIN and the MDN, "Mobile Directory Number". The reason it may not always match your personal cell phone number has to do with number portability and there being two different types of identification that networks use.

Some devices are identified by ESN (electronic serial number)that 32 bit, others use MEID (mobile equipment identifiers) that is 56 bit. Each time a call is placed, the ESN is automatically transmitted to the base station so the wireless carrier's mobile switching office can check the call's validity. This is different from the MIN (mobile identification number), which is the wireless carrier's identifier for a phone in the network.

Who are the providers for the government's "free cell phone" program?

The U.S. Government has a program where it provides free cell phones and mobile phone service to low-income families and individuals. The program gives each participant a free wireless phone and 250 minutes each month. The program currently helps just over 12 million people.

Since the Federal Government does not have its own wireless network they partnered with private wireless service providers to provide the service. TracFone, Sprint, SafeLink, Virgin (Assurance), and Reachout are just some of the providers who participate in this program.

As for determining who your service provider is, try typing in your area code and exchange (the first six digits of your phone number) into our caller location tool. Aside from giving you the location which a phone is located in, it can also sometimes match a phone number to a specific service provider. Hope this helps.

I lost my phone what now?

It sounds as if someone has found your son's phone and since they have not tried to get it back to you, before anything talk to your son and make sure there was not anything more sensitive than text messages left on the phone. Nowadays people use their phones to log into accounts, make purchases and more. This can sometimes mean sensitive information is left on your phone. This is why it is often worth the extra hassle to set a password on your phone.

If you suspect sensitive information was left on the phone, before proceeding with reporting anything have him change the password on any compromised logins and cancel compromised credit cards.

Now as for who to report this to. First and foremost notify your phone's service provider. Most service providers can record a phone as stolen so when the serial number is used to reactivate service they will try to block it. Note, this does not always work with phones that contain transferable sim cards.

You may also be able to file a police report. Since the text message came from an out of country number it indicates this phone is going to be well out of jurisdiction, but just in case the number was "spoofed" (more here) it may still be a good idea.

More here

About cloning and spoofing -

First we need to define cell phone fraud. According the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), cell phone fraud is defined as the tampering, modification, or unauthorized use of a particular cell phone device or service. Cell phone crime took off in 1990s. Because of this, the Wireless Telephone Protection Act was passed in 1998. This act made an act of cell phone fraud known as "cloning" a crime.

A cell phone has a unique electronic serial number or ESN. The vulnerability comes when crooks use a scanner to pick up your device's ESN and then exploit it by reprogramming another phone with the compromised data and make calls at your expense. These malicious persons use complex software and devices (scanners) to obtain the transmissions from your phone. Since the two devices are now using the same ESN, the carrier cannot figure out the difference and the fraudulent calls go unnoticed.

Many producers and manufacturers of have mounted a technological battle against cell phone cloning. Both the remote tampering of and reprogramming of new models are allegedly more difficult. Again, the FCC says new security implications will help in the reduction of all cell phone fraud in the future.

Really the only thing you yourself can do is to check your bill monthly. Any calls that look out of place will raise alarm. Phishing on the other hand, you can prevent yourself.

It is possible that you are receiving these messages from a spoofed phone number. Spoofing a phone number results in the recipient of the call or text seeing a different number than the originating caller is using. More
here: There are a number of services that offer spoofing service and it is more affordable than you may think.

As for stopping it, you can try to contact your service provider and ask that they block the number or if you are using a smart phone there are a few different apps that allow you to block various numbers.