With over 200 million users worldwide, Truecaller is one of the more popular apps out there for Android and iOS devices. It started as a dorm room project by Swedish students, Nami Zarringhalam and Alan Mamedi, looking to create a server that would help identify the unknown incoming calls, which has now transformed into one of the market leaders among Caller ID and spam blocking apps.
Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, Truecaller began its journey as a caller ID service in 2009 but since has also added various other services to its portfolio, which includes call blocking, flash messaging, a payment platform, who viewed my profile and Incognito Mode features, among others.
If you are reading this article, you are probably also wondering how Truecaller gets all that information and is it safe to download or keep using the app. We’ve got you covered here as we explain if Truecaller is safe to use, how it works and how it generates revenue.
How Truecaller Works?
The technical concept behind Truecaller’s daily functioning is quite straightforward and not as complex as you might imagine. Now, the concept on which this application work is called crowd-sourcing, which basically means that anyone who downloads the app becomes a source of their database.
When you download this app on your device, all the information about your contact list gets automatically synced with Truecaller’s database and adds to the billions of contacts listing already existing in its directory.
Now if you get a call from an unknown caller, then it is very likely that some Truecaller user or users may have that unknow number saved in their device. As you receive the call, the Truecaller machine learning starts analysing its data and produces the most common known caller’s name.
Note: The caller’s name depends on the Truecaller users who have saved that number according to their understanding, So sometimes the name can seem vague.
Is Truecaller safe?
Before discussing this, it is relevant to know what personal data does Truecaller collects, how it takes permission to collect information and how it earns money.
Personal data Truecaller collects
- Your IP address.
- Device ID or unique identifier.
- Device manufacturer and type.
- Device and hardware settings.
- SIM card usage.
- Applications installed on your device.
- ID for advertising.
- Ad data.
- Operating system.
- Web browser; the pages you visit and the features you use on the Search engine.
- Connection information.
- Screen resolution.
- Email ID.
- Access to the device address book.
- Device log and event information.
- Keywords and Metadata of incoming and outgoing calls and messages.
Alongwith this, Truecaller also collects some data automatically through cookies like your language preference, login information, irregular activities on sites for security purposes, among others.
Before collecting the listed information Trucaller according to its policy asks for the following permissions to store data on its server.
- Call logs; asking permission to track call timing, the caller and write and delete call logs.
- Pair with Bluetooth devices.
- Contacts permission.
- Make and manage phone calls; where it can even call from your device without letting you know.
- Send and view a message; where Truecaller can send msg from your device on its own discretion.
- Microphone permission, which allows the app to record audio snippets.
And the app won’t work without you giving it permission to read and write calls and messages alongwith managing phone calls.
How to manage permissions on Truecaller?
Open your Android device’s settings and follow the steps mentioned below to manage its permissions.
- Go to App management under settings.
- Click on App permissions on the new window.
- Under App, permissions scroll down where it says Truecaller and Tap on the button.
- True caller permission settings page will open where you can tap the toggle buttons to revoke app permissions.
If you want to unlist your mobile number from the application so that it is no longer searchable, click on the link below to go through our guide, which will help you remove your number from Truecaller and to deactivate your account.
How does Truecaller generate revenue?
The app indeed comes free of cost. Still, as the old saying goes that nothing comes for free, this notion is valid with Truecaller; likewise, the application uses the following four methods to earn money.
- Ad revenue
- premium subscriptions.
- User data
- Truecaller Money
Advertisements are one of the oldest ways of earning money for digital platforms. As you install the app and give Truecaller permissions, it starts syncing the data to the third-party service providers to work just like Facebooks Pixels and track user behaviour to show relevant ads for which it gets paid.
You might’ve heard that ‘Data is the new oil’ and a person’s identity and digital behaviour has a lot more value than you might think.
Adding to the old saying, the new saying goes like: If the product is free, the product is you; and Truecaller is no exception to making user data the product.
The company shares and discloses your data to its affiliated organisations and entities and sells data to the third-party websites and partners, which uses this data for analytical and marketing purposes.
To sum it up, Truecaller makes it pretty easy for any user or its business partners to find data about someone.
It is basically an in-app purchase to enhance the user experience and get more features like the Incognito Mode, which allows you to check out profiles of other people/phone numbers without your profile appearing in the ‘Who viewed your profile’ section.
2017 onwards, Truecaller also forayed into digital payments — competing with the likes of Paytm, Google Pay, PayPal, among others — and has tie-ups with various companies and organisations to in aid in making payments for DTH, Electricity, Cabel, Water, Hospital and many more alongwith bank to bank money transfer. Truecaller earns a commission for this service from both the provider and the user.
So, is Truecaller safe after all?
Well, quite frankly, if you’re going to be using Truecaller or already have it installed in your device, do so at your own risk.
The app has been criticised by privacy activists over the past few years. You might have also noticed that Truecaller records clipboard after asking permission to set itself as the default phone app, which can be a big risk if you’re copying passwords or other personal identifiable information.
Using Truecaller is a straightforward trade-off. You need the information that Truecaller has and Truecaller needs any and all data that you can afford to give it; so to avail a caller ID and spam blocking service for free (monetarily), you will have to do away with a bit of your privacy. And if that works for you, Truecaller is safe unless its servers are hacked and all of its data is drained and decrypted.
Furthermore, Truecaller subcontract storage or processing of your information to third parties located in countries other than your home country and may also use cloud-based services for this purpose.
Also read: How to change your name in Truecaller?