Attached hereto is a Source Code Appendix which consists of pages A-1 through A-46.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a method and system for call tracing, and, more particularly, to an automated method and system for quickly and simply establishing and removing a trace on a telephone line.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Known methods and systems for establishing a trace on an identified telephone number have, in general, been cumbersome and time-consuming thereby, often wasting valuable time in a situation where time is of the essence. More particularly, some known methods and systems for establishing a trace require manually programming central office switches in a geographic area. For example, if a trace is to be established for calls originating in the Chicago area, such a task typically requires three persons about three hours each to manually perform the task. This wastes precious time in a situation, such as a kidnapping, where time can not be wasted. In addition, as with any system that requires manual programming, errors may be made which would compromise the trace and lead to valuable information being lost.
Other known call tracing methods and systems require that an incoming call actually be answered and that the answering party initiate the trace. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,591,665 (Foster et al.) disclose a method of providing customer originated call tracing. If a customer receives an obscene or nuisance call, for example, the customer enters a code indicating that such a call has been received. The identity of the calling party is identified to authorities in response to the action by the customer. Such a system has obvious drawbacks including the potential for abuse by a called party. Such abuse would waste valuable time on the part of the authorities and detract authorities from where their resources are most needed. Other systems use a caller identification type of tracing commonly referred to as caller i.d. U.S. Pat. No. 4,754,475 (Pintos et al.) discloses a calling line tracing system and identification detector which identifies of a calling party without the called party ever lifting the telephone receiver. Other systems forward an incoming call to a called party's pager including caller i.d.-type information. See, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,644,626 (Carlsen et al.); 5,692,038 (Kraus et al.) and 5,694,453 (Fuller et al.). A drawback with such caller i.d. type devices is that the calling party may block the identification of the calling number typically by entering a code using the keypad of a phone before a call is made.
It is thus desirable to provide a call tracing method and system that is simple to implement, significantly reduces the time for its implementation, and provides accurate information in less time than known call tracing methods and systems. It is also desirable to provide a call tracing method and system that can cancel an implemented call trace quickly. It is also desirable to provide an automated call tracing method and system that can be automatically implemented and canceled at a site remote from the switches of central offices thereby eliminating direct manual programming of the switches at the central offices. It is also desirable to provide a call tracing method and system that does not require any action by the called party.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
According to a first aspect of the invention there is provided a method for tracing a call. The method includes the steps of:
(a) displaying a log-on screen on a display device, the log-on screen having a plurality of fields requiring input data including a telephone number field;
(b) inputting a telephone number in the telephone number field wherein the telephone number represents the number to be traced;
(c) establishing a call trace in a plurality of central offices;
(d) displaying a confirmation screen on the display device, the confirmation screen indicating whether the trace was successfully established or not in each of the plurality of central offices; and
(e) indicating that a call has been made to the telephone number input in step (b).
According to a second aspect of the invention there is provided a method for tracing a call. The method includes the steps of:
(a) simultaneously designating at least one telephone number to be traced in a plurality of central offices;
(b) monitoring incoming calls at said plurality of central offices;
(c) determining when an incoming call at one of said plurality of central offices matches the at least one telephone number designated in step (a); and
(d) if it is determined in step (c) that an incoming call at one of said plurality of central offices matches the at least one telephone number designated in step (a), then indicating that a match has occurred.
According to a third aspect of the invention there is provided a system for tracing calls. The system includes:
a plurality of central offices coupled to the processor for sending messages to the processor and receiving messages from the processor;
wherein the processor is programmed to run the following call tracing routine;
receiving a message identifying a telephone number to be traced;
transmitting a command to the plurality of central offices to establish a trace on the identified telephone number;
transmitting a trace found message to a display device when any one of the plurality of central offices detects that the identified telephone number has been called.
According to a fourth aspect of the invention there is provided a call trace process performed by a computer network. The process includes the steps of:
a first party identifying a telephone number to be traced;
the first party sending a call trace activation message to the computer network authorizing the activation of a call trace, the message also including the telephone number to be traced;
the computer network sending a call trace activator message to a central office coupled to the computer network;
the central office sending a call trace found message to the computer network whenever an incoming call is matched to the telephone number to be traced;
the computer network sending a call trace information message to the first party wherein the call trace information message includes an identification of the telephone number of the incoming call.