MUST BE 18 OR OLDER - MUST READ TERMS OF SERVICE

Know an inmate being released within the year who's in need of a job? We are working with employers to help find inmates work before they're released. Post a free Employment Profile for an inmate here!

Overseas phone calls - HOW TO

32 posts / 0 new
Last post
My_other_car_is...
My_other_car_is_a_Porsche's picture
Overseas phone calls - HOW TO

Hey guys and gals 

So. My penpal and I decided we wanted to take our relationship a step further and start talking on the phone. He's in prison in California and I'm located in Germany and figuring out how to do this took me a while but it's finally working (and very well too I'd like to add) so I thought I'd share how we did it! It's so so so amazing to finally be able to talk in real time.

So here's how we did it.

First thing you'll need is a local phone number, the closer to where the prison is located the better. Most prisons don't enable overseas phone calls. There's several apps out there promising to create a "free" U.S. phone number, but most of them aren't very reliable from what I've heard, plus they're never actually free. There is for example an App called "Text Me" which I haven't tried but a friend of mine is using it more or less successfully. I'm using Skype and it works just fine, the connection is really good. Skype lets you create a U.S. phone number and you can select the area code that you need. Renting that number costs me 6,61€ a month (that's like 7,80 USD). It gets cheaper when you rent it for a longer period of time.

So the next thing you need to do is set up a GTL account. GTL stands for Global Tel Link, that's the phone company you're gonna be dealing with. At first I tried contacting them, looking for advice since I didn't know how to proceed as an overseas customer, but they never got back to me. So what I did was, I acted as if I were a US customer and just set up a regular account. Which wasn't a problem since I have a local phone number.
You'll have to add all kinds of information, for example the exact location, name and number of your inmate. Plus you'll need a credit card. Once being asked to enter your credit card info, you'll have to enter a LOCAL billing address zip code. That's the part where it gets fishy cause as an overseas customer you don't usually have one. I just typed in the local zip code from the area where my local phone number is from. As long as they get your money you'll be fine I guess 
You'll have to put money on your GTL account or your inmate won't be able to call you. We pay like 1.23$ per 15 minutes phone call. I think that's very reasonable. Plus GTL offers free phone calls every now and then during this pandemic, so if your penpal is lucky he can sign up for free phone calls.

And that's it! Now all you have to do is send your new phone number to your penpal and: enjoy  and don't get freaked out by the recorded messages they play every time. Ugh!!

There might be other ways to put money on the GTL account, I haven't really looked into that cause for me credit card works just fine.

I hope this helps! As I said it took me a while to figure this out so I thought others might find this helpful as well. Finally being able to talk to your loved one real time is the best feeling in the world! My Baby calls me every other day now and we love it. It's a bit weird in the beginning since you'll never know when exactly they're gonna call, or IF they'll be able to call at all, and of course you can never call back. And there will always be people around when they call depending on where the phones are located. But it is definitely worth the effort!

Take care everybody and stay safe 

My_other_car_is...
My_other_car_is_a_Porsche's picture

Oh and I forgot to say this: I have the Skype App on my phone so our calls work just like regular phone calls, only they're coming in through the App.
If you're from Canada or the U.S. you can also use google voice to create a local phone number.

Also: Why didn't my text adopt the smiley faces I added! :-O It looked a lot more friendly in the preview ;-)

Emmakatexo
Emmakatexo's picture

I'm from the UK and that's exactly what I did too and I've had no issues with it. My guy now rings me every day and it's amazing hearing his voice rather than relying on messages to come through! :)

Anni_
Anni_'s picture

I did it exactly the same as you and also just took a zip code from the U.S.! Fortunately, it worked so easily. May I ask in which institution your PP is? Just curious, because mine is also in Cali and I live near you :)

My_other_car_is...
My_other_car_is_a_Porsche's picture

Mine's at HDSP Susanville.. But he's going to get transferred to a lower security level prison as soon as Covid is over, we're still looking into what options he has. He wants to go to San Quentin so it will be easier for me to come visit (cause it's so close to San Francisco meaning there's an international airport nearby). I seriously have no idea what else to take into account when looking for a "good" prison o_O
Where's yours at? :-)

My_other_car_is...
My_other_car_is_a_Porsche's picture

Awesome! I'm happy it's working for you too <3 

Christin Theres...
Christin Theres Wellers's picture

Anybody has someone in Huntsville, TX and can be called?

Urdreamguy909
Urdreamguy909's picture

Excuse me but does anyone know if a prisoner can write overseas to someone and how to change the option to yes willing to write outside of the USA on his profile?

Kirsten
Kirsten's picture

@ ChristinTheres:  As Violet told you already yesterday, TX doesn't do international calls and you both can get into serious trouble if you're trying to circumvent it. so, if you wish to stir up trouble for yourself and your inmate alike, go ahead. Will be stricter for others then just as well. So, if that's what you've got in mind, go ahead and ask for a 3rd time.  if not, hold your feet still and stick to the rules and ride it as it is.

@the dream guy: contact WAP about this, please: g e n e r a l - i n f o r m a t i o n @ w a p. c o m (leave the spaces out, I just wanted to prevent spam). They'll get back to you.

Jeanne555
Jeanne555's picture

@KristinTheres @Kirsten my penpal is in Huntsville, TX and when we discussed phone calls I told him that I am probably not allowed to call since forums explicitly said no international calls allowed but he said that calls from Canada should be fine. I am currently researching this, maybe Canada is not considered international since it's also in North America. I will find out the answer soon.

Anni_
Anni_'s picture

Sorry for my late reply My_other_car_is...

Oh, yeah, I can understand very well, that it's difficult what needs to be considered in the search for a „good“ prison. I hope you both find the best possible option for him. Mine is in San Quentin, so I agree with you, I‘m also happy about the nearby airport in San Francisco. Unfortunately, San Quentin got the whole Covid thing pretty bad. So it will probably take a while until visits are allowed again - and until we’re allowed to enter from overseas :(

Anni_
Anni_'s picture

...my reply actually referred to #5 and not #10, sorry Jeanne555 :)

 

Jeanne555
Jeanne555's picture

My favorite penpal from Texas gave me a phone number to register for phone calls but I think he was wrong that we are allowed to talk. It explicitly says I must be in USA. So I think being in Canada is a no go for phone calls as well. :( I let my imagination play out how his voice sounds like :P.

Rika9
Rika9's picture

Hey y'all! :-) So I did everything as suggested, got a local number, created a GTL account, put money into my account. Yesterday I got my first call from my PP and the recorded message told to press 5 to accept the call, which I did but the message kept on playing, then playing a second time. I seriously don't know what I did wrong? Does anyone have an idea? We've been waiting to finally be able to talk since forever and not knowing what I did wrong just by pressing 5 and how to fix the problem is frustrating :-( 

Bettan
Bettan's picture

Doesnt work for me because advancepay doesnt work at his facility :( i have to go through ICSolutions and they dont accept my card.. and now when i tried to log in they locked me out???

Farfromhome
Farfromhome's picture

I have to press 0 with GTL but it doesn't always work. It's frustrating but unfortunately not uncommon. I usually just try restarting my phone. 

Rika9
Rika9's picture

Farfromhome, you just press 0 even if the recorded message tells you to press another number to accept the call? That's interesting.. I mean, how are we supposed to know all those things :-( 

Farfromhome
Farfromhome's picture

No, the call tells me to press 0 to accept the call. It doesn't always pick it up though which is a pain

Anne marie HH
Anne marie HH's picture

Keep running your mouth about apps and you get everyone banned. Geez

Kirsten
Kirsten's picture

I rarely agree w/you, Anne Marie, but this time I wholeheartedly do. Alas, it's no use anyway. You'll always find enough ppl who just can't or don't or don't want to grasp that the strict rules they're are complaining about will get stricter on everyone if they try to circumvent them and keep talking about it.

Too much logic for some.

Rika9
Rika9's picture

I'm sorry did I miss something? 

Farfromhome
Farfromhome's picture

I think they mean with people talking about how they use Skype etc to gain a local number. This constitutes as call forwarding which can lead to disciplinary action on the inmate and they could also remove you from your pp's authorised phone/visit list. 
Lots of people do use them, however it's probably best to not discuss it if you are. C.O's have been known to check these sites. 

ST4s
ST4s's picture

Every hurdle and indignation we associate with keeping in touch with someone behind bars (can’t send greeting cards, can’t do this, can’t do that, your mileage may vary) began with a clever scheme to circumvent the rules – and resulted in an increased loss of privileges for those we want to keep in touch with, thereby compounding the hurdles and indignations for those of us on the outside. Go figure.

Rika9
Rika9's picture

I didn't know that but thank you for explaining! I'm very sorry and I'll keep that in mind from now on! 

VioletGrey
VioletGrey's picture

I'd just be wary of mentioning those things in phone or letters. I wouldn't be too worried about CO's coming on here checking for people using Skype numbers and tracking down which pen pal in which State in which prison and finding out what your real name is and then ringing that facilty to dob you in... that's a little bit too many steps to make a chain. But it's best not to write it down or talk about it on the phone cause that could get you into trouble. Also if you're using your real full name on a prison chat website then the above warning could very well apply. 
And +1 to what ST4s said about the strict rules and why they're so strict :( 

Anne marie HH
Anne marie HH's picture

Thanks Kirsten/ Farfromhome
It just annoys TF outta me when silly lil groupies like the author come on to sites like this, run there mouths , ruin everything for everyone else then vanish into smoke because they have tired of writing to their inmate. Loose lips sink lips you stupid stupid girl

Kirsten
Kirsten's picture

Nah, @AnneMarie: Here'swhere we don't agree anymore. ;-)

Me, I can also get impatient when I see ppl doing things that harm themselves and others in the long run  (by stricter rules, for examples). And it confuses and frustrates me when I see ppl asking the same question about 5 times, in three threads here and twice, let's say, just as an example, on a FB group. Sometimes I'd just wave a sign: "Reading helps." When ppl ask the same question for the 374th time, I'm inwardly like: "Read before posting, please." and it for sure doesn't help that there's no search bar any longer. (I think, I resolved 2 thirds of my questions through that, when I was a newly registered member in 2018, so,it was really helpful for me).

Yet, I wouldn't know who's a "groupie" and who isn't. I just don't know this, so I've got no way of telling it and it ain't my business anyway. Some ppl are online often and just don't post much/anything. And some avoid differen't opinions altogether, for fear of conflict or fotr feeling personally attacked when the disagreement is in fact about a procedure, a subject. It's often not about feelings at all, but some are more emotionally wired and take things utterly personal, when the solution (imo)  isn't to be found in feelings, but in taking two steps back (atad away from personal, emotional involvement) and looking at the big picture. But I know that's just me and I had to learn the hard way that lots of ppl see it differently. They like to ride on their emotional waves, even (and sometimes all the more) when it deepens the problem at hand.

So, basically, I let them. And when I notice that there is some of that stuff happening again that frustrates me/ makes me impatient I try to stay AFK (away from keyboard). Thereare others on here who possess the admiring amount of patience it takes to answer the same questions over and over again with the same amount calm kindness. Not that I couldn't be kind, but why I see ppl get illogical, my patience isn't limitless at all.

Have a nice day, everyone!

Kirsten

 

 

Anne marie HH
Anne marie HH's picture

I get ya Kristen - but as a ' lifer' and I m not a PP or MWI , I been in this a long time, and we see this all the time, here on FB on PTO, these gals arrive are high as kites becos they been writing an inmate for 3 whole weeks, they put out a post, exactly like this here - how to circumvent this that or whatever, with a long azz document about " how they did it" then they get tired of hanging about / writing an inmate and they leave - meanwhile there post gets seen somewhere along the line and the rest of us ( as pointed out up there by ST4) then have MORE restrictions to cope with and put up with for LIFE , wereas these silly lil girls have moved on leaveing US with the descruction that there big mouths have caused. Yes i m angry about posts like this - why? Well Some of us are not 'just' PPs - some of us are married or in committed longterm relationships with inmates and just skippin' off into the sunset when the rules get too restrictive is not an option for us - so yes I get angry when I see posts like this.
@kirsten I hope that gives an insight into why I may be come across as aggressive, if not - * shrugs*

Rika9
Rika9's picture

Anne Marie, I completely understand why this makes you so angry, really. Especially since your husband is on DR and you're no PP or MWI. Like I said before, I sincerely apologize for being so ignorant and I won't discuss any of these things publicly anymore. But I wanted to make clear I'm definitely no silly lil girl and I'm extremely loyal so you won't see me getting tired of writing and talking to my PPs. I'm in it for the long run. 
 

Also I'd like to ask if it makes any difference if I delete at least the one thread I made about this topic? I know it wouldn't solve the whole problem but I'd still like to know. 

Anne marie HH
Anne marie HH's picture

Rika - thank you for taking heed. But this wasn t actually aimed at you - it was the moron who created the post and Ooh what a suprise - hasn t been seen since THATS the behavior I m talking about.

Kirsten
Kirsten's picture

It's been her - with a changed nick. ;-) And I knew it because of the profile pic, that was - in part - the reason why I jumped in here yesterday.

So maybe asking first and shooting later might be a strategy to go about things?

For, as you see, AnneMarie,knowing stories, having the info on what's happening helps a lot. Both to see how one's own actions (which may not always be carefully thought out, for who's always aware of everything?) may affect others - and to gain, receive and give some understanding.

I knew from an older thread (back with Frankie Bones) that your husband's on DR, but I didn't wanna... you know, kinda give it an "outing". It's up to you what you share with whom and given that there's no PM function any longer, it's quite an "audience", a range of ppl who're gonna find it and who you'll never know.

I'm not gonna claim that I'm even close to understanding what it means  to be with someone and all of a sudden that guy is taken and finds himself with a charge that's leading to a DR sentence. I'm far from it and it takes a very deep and special form of love to undergo it, to stick around. Many (I'd even assume, most) would've left and filed for divorce.

You didn't and you dispense a lot and go through many obstacles, carrying that stigma along with him. I could well imagine (I don't know yours, but...) parents asking for grandkids that won't come because of no conjugal (is that the word in English?, I guess so) visits, the "friends" turning their back on you and the gossiping of ppl. It takes a lot to shoulder that, day in, day out, year after year. And I can understand that threads like these frustrate you far more than they do frustrate me. Though I'm also planning to stick around writing, even if I'm just been doing it for two and a half years. And I can understand that you don't want to tell every girl about your story - and there for sure is no obligation whatsoever to do so. Knowing the background stories of ppl helps, though. It mildens the sharpness of words sometimes, though sometimes a clarity compared to the knife of a surgeon can be helpful as well. Better to open a wound, sometimes, than to get a sepsis and die from it.

I'm not against aggressiveness per say (aggredere is the Latin word for "moving/heeding towards sth.") - where would life be without that kind of energy, which alsois taking the initiative, get things going?

And that last phrase of yours  

Quote:
@kirsten I hope that gives an insight into why I may be come across as aggressive, if not - * shrugs*

I just smiled. It could've been me. I've written and said the same at several occassions in my life. I explain where I'm coming from and then it is: "Well, either you get me or you don't."

I think I do, at least partly, though I've never walked in your shoes.

Kirsten

 

Anne marie HH
Anne marie HH's picture

Thank you Kirsten. I hadn t realised it was the same girl, no, so thanks for pointing that out. I don t doubt that you plan to 'stick around' but many don t. And the format is pretty much the same - turn up, brag, boast blab their mouths cause chaos then vanish. Yeah it is hard for those of us that are in committed relationships namely Northern Yank, Farfrom home, Blondgal and myself to name but a few