Intelius Sells Your Unlisted And Unpublished Cellphone Number Online

If you thought your cellphone number was safe, think again. Intellus just launched the first ever online cellphone directory. Oh, you never gave them permission, they went ahead and scraped the internet, bought lists from data resellers and deployed data mining techniques.

“Stop it. This is a violation of Americans’ privacy. People expect their cell phone numbers to remain private,” said Steve Zipperstein, vice president and general counsel of Verizon Wireless in a press release. Verizon said it would take whatever steps necessary to stop this new service.

But we may not have to worry too much, the quality of their data is questionable. RCR Wireless News tested out the service and asked for the cellphone numbers of Barack Obama and the president of Verizon Wireless. The service provide seventeen numbers but none were right, and in Obama’s case, one of them was for the Cook County jail.

Consumers interested in getting off the list can fax Intelius a removal request letter along with a proof of identity, such as a driver’s license, to 425-974-6194.

Intelius Cell Phone Directory [Official Site]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Blueskylaw says:

    So when I forget the number to my new phone I can call them up?

  2. mamacat49 says:

    Of course, I checked my own number—I didn’t (read: wouldn’t) bother to pay the $15 to see my name, but the city was wrong. Hope the rest of it’s wrong, too. Glad I have caller ID.

  3. LorneReams says:

    This site has been around for years. It’s basically a trace-skipping tool used by creditors that has branched out to a broader audience. You can actually get a LOT more info then just cell phone info if you are willing to pay the extra cash.

  4. Falconfire says:

    I was under the mistaken idea apparently that it was illegal in the US to solicit to a cellphone number no matter what.

    I know it certainly used to be, when did this change?

  5. Echomatrix says:

    how do we opt out? Isn’t personal information personal property?

  6. Erskine says:

    Burn their servers and march the employees into the sea.

  7. RottNDude says:

    Ben, you have the company name tagged and spelled incorrectly in the article as “Intellus”, when it is in fact “Intelius” (which you got right on the headline and link).

  8. DeeJayQueue says:

    I hate that my info might be in there, but I have to say, My partner used Intelius a while ago to track down a deadbeat whom he had contracted to make something for him and then disappeared. He stopped answering emails, had no home phone number and his website doesn’t list an address. Even a whois on his domain registry lists bogus info. (apparently we were not the first ones to try to track him down). With the Intelius info we were able to locate him, get his current address and phone number and lodge a complaint with the BBB. My partner got what he ordered in the long run and everyone was reasonably happy.

  9. chrisbacke says:

    I heard about a website recently that promised to spam any site you wanted… I can’t think of the name of it now, which means I’ll do a little digging and let you guys know… For your own use, of course…

    My cell phone was listed with correct city – but then again I’ve had it for six years and it’s my only phone… I’m not about to pay $15 to see my own name and cell phone #..

    @EchoMatrix – personal information has yet to be considered personal property. IANAL, but in most cases it’s been considered legitimate business if they had your information and they hadn’t been asked to stop (Do Not Call list, a written or e-mailed request to stop, etc.)

    I wonder how serious Verizon is about shutting these guys down (or at least not giving out cell phone numbers)… If they’re for real, it might be nice to have a corporate behemoth on our side.

  10. ottergal says:

    I searched for myself in two different cities (different physical and mailing addresses) and neither came up. I wonder if it matters who your carrier is or how you use your phone (for example, maybe you only have a cell phone, no land line.)

    Not that I’m complaining. Although caller ID is a great thing and I don’t answer calls from strangers.

  11. Lyrai says:

    Er, yeah. The stuff they have on me on there is outdated by a few years. Even so, I want my shit off of there. Where’s the ‘remove me from your database please’ button?

  12. PermanentStar says:

    I work for a telephone company and fielded a call from an irate customer who thought that we sold the data. I actually called them, and they said that most of the data they get doesn’t come from the service providers themselves, but often from public records, and that you can get your information out of their data base, but you have to send them a letter I believe. That conversation was a long time ago, so I may be amiss on some of the details.

  13. QueenHawkeye says:

    I searched for myself, and it said that my carrier is from Verizon, not T-Mobile.

    Typical directory. I wouldn’t trust this if I were you.

  14. hatchetman751 says:

    Hopefully they can die in a fire. My name doesn’t need to be on any more lists…

  15. protest says:

    jesus christ!! they list my mother’s maiden name, and will sell someone my date of birth, my college apt and mom’s address and phone number!! wtf, how is this shit legal???

  16. britne says:

    searched my skype and grand central numbers, and came up empty. good to know.

  17. Vicky says:

    “Unlisted phone number” fee for cell phones, here we come!

  18. IrisMR says:

    What the heck? These guys need to be sued DRY! This is the worst.

  19. darkclawsofchaos says:

    next thing we know, it will be perfectly acceptable and for others to stare at you naked, Europe is already started the fad

  20. hanoverfiste says:

    Opt-Out: []

  21. Szin says:

    Hmmmm, I wonder if Verizon will actually do anything about this. I’m hoping there’s a lawsuit I can jump on!

  22. MercuryPDX says:

    It lists my Cell as residential. Ha Ha.

  23. juri squared says:

    Great, does this mean the creditors looking for the former owner of my number are going to renew their efforts?

  24. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    If we ever find out everything about the connections between Obama & Rezko, Obama’s phone number just might be that of the Cook County Jail!

  25. LionelEHutz says:

    So wait, you have to give them your drivers license number to get off this list so that they can then add you to another with the license info.

    Nice scam by them.

  26. Brad2723 says:

    The quality of their service is questionable but it is still enough to keep debt collectors calling me about delinquent debts incurred by someone with a similar name.

  27. gp5548 says:

    It listed my name and indicated it had my number 11 times. My carrier is Ameritech I wonder if they rolled over for the FBI/NSA/CIA so I guess they’ll do it for Intelius for $$$. As mentioned above I’m not about to pay them to see my own number but I will make the leap and guess that they culled it from somewhere. Caveat emptor

  28. protest says:


    that’s what i’m thinking too. although on their website they request something else:

    “To opt out your publicly available information from being obtained by someone using our People Search
    service, fax or mail your name and address as it appears on our website or send us a copy of the page from our website that includes your information.”

    no other instruction than that, and i’d imagine that fax empties into a nice round black bin.

  29. MercuryPDX says:

    @protest: After it’s verified for accuracy, natch.

  30. sleepydumbdude says:

    Dang I have 24, I’m not paying but it seems they have every cell carrier phone I’ve every had listed. At least now I’m prepaid under a false name.

  31. sixseeds says:

    How is this at all legal? It looks like they have my info, although I won’t pay b/c I have a very common name. This is very scary. Why isn’t there a government list where we can request removal? I’m not about to trust my driver’s license to these people.

  32. Cowboys_fan says:

    All this stuff is already on the internet. This company has only collected it into one database. Anybody with a phone and some google skills can get all this info anyways. Don’t willingly let your info get on the internet and you should be fairly protected. You can find a boat load of emails and addresses, names, numbers, etc just searching resumes online.

  33. Cowboys_fan says:

    One skill I luckily learned early in life is to never give your phone number to any company. If they want to get a hold of me, they can mail me. When they force a number from me, its fake. My bank and CC company don’t even know my number. My work knows it but that’s about it! I’ve never had any issues because of that, other then perhaps forgetting which fake number I gave.

  34. Dissent says:

    Would you trust those folks with your driver’s license? I wouldn’t.

    Yesterday was Data Privacy Day 2008. There was not a single mention of it anywhere in Congress, and Congress has done zilch to enact meaningful privacy protections. As long as Congress continues to sit on its hands, data miners like these will continue to operate.

  35. ccarnicom says:

    you think thats creepy… check out

  36. Chris H says:

    It’s not entirely sourced from the internets. They get the data from businesses, like pizza delivery companies, and any other business to which you voluntarily provide your phone number at the register.

  37. Chris H says:

    And verizon only cares about this because it undermines their business model of allowing individuals to publish, for a fee, their cell phone numbers in the yellow pages (plumbers, etc, want their wireless # in there).

  38. scoosdad says:

    LOL, after you’ve done the initial search for a number, they offer a “$10 cash back special offer available to all new customers after completing the purchase”.

    Maybe another Web Loyalty “Shopper Discount” in action?

    They claimed they ‘found’ my cell number but it was listed under another city not even close to me. I’m safe for now I guess.

  39. Justin42 says:

    Well, looks like they have me totally right, from what I can see. Great. And how do I trust they’ll do the right thing if I have to send them a copy of my driver’s license? Geez, why don’t I send a copy of my social security card while I’m at it?

  40. warf0x0r says:

    They got me, although its my college and parents phone numbers…

  41. SisterHavana says:

    When I looked it up with my cell number it had the wrong city.

    Still, I’m glad I put my cell number on the do-not-call list!

  42. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Publicly available info? Fuck that. Find the addresses and phone numbers of every fuckhat working for this company and post them in the open somewhere. Maybe they’ll get the message, maybe not, but one thing for certain: the non-stop hilarity!!

  43. Mr. Gunn says:

    protest: Kinda makes you wonder about the banks that still think SSN, DOB and maiden name is a good security measure.

  44. UnStatusTheQuo says:

    When I send the fax, can I request a percentage of whatever they have earned on my number be sent as well?

    That is how it SHOULD work.

  45. jaydez says:

    this is insane. I searched my name and it knew both my brothers’ names and both my parents’ names… first middle and last!

    Most of the info in the $49 package though is public information and I can get it for free.

  46. Adam Rock says:

    [] gives you some of this information for free.

    Geez, Intelius really is super creepy now.

  47. snowmentality says:

    Guys, if you read the link above, the Intelius listing specifically says that you can cross out the driver’s license number and photo before faxing it in. Essentially all they’d see is your name, DOB and address as proof of identity. Which is still not all that cool, but they probably have that info.

    My listings on there are several years out of date. Interesting, because I bought a house in that time, which is a matter of public record, so you’d think they’d have my current address. (Every skeezy subprime mortgage lender sure knows my address, and sends me all kinds of skeezy mortgage offers. Although they’ve dropped off considerably in the past year, come to think of it. Silver lining to the subprime crisis?)

  48. rlee says:

    Having a very common name is both a blessing and a curse these days. fname+lname+state -> 319 hits for me, no phone.

  49. drjayphd says:

    @mamacat49: Same here. Not even close, in my case. (phew)

  50. bombaxstar says:

    you can search for people by ssn…weird

  51. redstorm986 says:

    I just want to let everyone here know that is all excited its listed by the wrong city. That city isn’t where your home address is, they will provide that if you pay 15$, that address is what town your cell phone company has their facilities in your area. Hence, why 5-10 years ago as cell phones were less prevalent people got non-local numbers sometimes just because the company didn’t have as many locales.

  52. Nighthawke says:

    So how do you deal with a rogue telcom that sells your contact information. For instance, AT&T has resold my information repeatedly over the past 5 years I’ve been with them. The main reason why I know is that there’s a subtle change in my contact information. Kicker of this is that I’ve ordered them in clear terms NOT to list me in their phone books.

    Each company I do business with I make a subtle change to my information to see if it does make it out into the wild. So far, 3 companies have done so and caught hell for doing it. They ask me how I found them out, I smile and say “If I’m going to tell you my secret, I’ve got this fantastic bridge to offer you. It’s in Brooklyn though.”

  53. LorneReams says:

    I just want to add that if this scares you, this is only the watered down version they are bundling to consumers. The actual skip tracing stuff that financial institutions and to a lesser extant, collection agencies, use are MUCH more detailed. They know your name, your mothers maiden name, your neighbors name and phone numbers, etc. It is very scary, but there is also very little that can be done about it. People ask “how is it legal”, well it’s legal because it’s not against the law yet to compile this info from non-private sources. Unbelievably, most of this data comes from MLM and spam lists. That one time you applied for a credit card, the one time you signed up for a store saver card, the time you put your cell phone on a credit app or some other referral list, it all ends up somewhere and is aggregated. It’s completely legal. Everyone needs to read the docs they sign when they give personal info…most say you agree to share with affiliates and “third parties we may do business with”.

  54. strathmeyer says:

    Unsolicited phone calls to wireless phones are against FCC regulations. I always get into fights with telemarketers who call and ask if I want to be put on their do-not-call list while I’m trying to explain to them that it is against the law for them to be calling me.

    @redstorm986: “So how do you deal with a rogue telcom that sells your contact information.”

    Make your information worthless?

  55. the_wiggle says:

    @Adam Rock: super creepy yes but zaba’s worse. that zaba thing has stuff going all the way back to my 1st apartment address w/my 1st husband.

    not paying to see how accurate Intelius is although not happy to see correct city/state/carrier.

    be nice to find a reasonably priced hacker type to remove such things from public records/searches etc.

    @UnStatusTheQuo: would be nice :)

    @Nighthawke: have you been able to get those 3 to cease &/or be punished?

  56. hanoverfiste says:

    RE:Zaba.. You can opt-out of that also. You just have to mail them a letter.

    Also you can have Zaba notify you anytime someone search for you, even if your info has been deleted. Which I have.

    Ironically, I work for people I knew 20 years ago, that I found thru ZabaSearch.

    Sadly, my opt-out experience comes from being a dead-beat.

  57. pigeonpenelope says:

    ack!! this is scary.

  58. judyh0311 says:

    I used this service to research one small phone number. Two weeks later a company I had never heard of debited my account for $20.00. Upon calling that company and asking what the heck was going on I was informed that by using the “Intelius” service I was automatically signed up for their services and my banking information was provided to them via Intelius. CAN WE SAY FRAUD???????????????????? Stay away from Intelius