A good thing to have is a list of the location and telephone number of as many payphones as you can find. In your town and far away.
The reason for this is it provides you a tool to use for people to contact you or for you to contact them.
Think back to the scene in Dirty Harry where the killer made Clint Eastwood run all over the city answering payphones. It allowed him to observe Clint Eastwood and contact him with further instructions without Clint Eastwood knowing when, where or who.
Lets say you have a person who wants into a safe house, your group or whatever. If you meet him in the park they can have the place bugged, video tapped and set up to snatch you before you realize the little old cripple was an FBI guy waiting for you.
Instead you have the person go to the phone at Main and Wood in Jerkwater, USA at 0913 where you call him and tell him to go to the payphone at Dingle and Berry in Anywhere, USA. 10 miles away. You can continue this as needed since you have an extensive list (remember to cross out ones you've used).
While he is there YOU can evesdrop on HIM. Does he pick up a cell phone and call someone? Does he talk with someone there? If so dump him or whatever comes to mind. If you want leave a bag of clothes there and tell him to strip completely naked there and switch into those clothes. This will allow larger "bugs" or surveillence gear to be removed and assess him.
If you are going to stick your neck out, make sure you know you can trust him. He won't know if you are near him or not. If he is serious he will follow orders.
The prepaid Cell Phone
I think next to a gun, knife and other assorted pocket items, the prepaid cell phone is one of the most necessary E&E survival tools we can have.
If the JBT, UN forces. thought police or some other group came after you RFN, at home, work, while driving you will need to get the word out for help, SITREP, etc.
Figure when they come for you, your phone has been a government tool for some time as well as your cell phone and everyone you contact with them. If you've really pissed them off, friends and family members have had their phones tapped, echeloned or whatever as well. IIRC Bob Starr had his phone tapped a decade BEFORE they arrested him on total BS. That was back in the 1990s and none of us have been low key since then to say the least.
Also your landline and cellphone (as well as credit cards, bank account) exist only at the mercy of the government. Piss them off and your accumulated dollars and phone service vanish instantly. POOF!!!
Walmart sells prepaid cellphones as well as probably most other medium or larger department stores. Keep in mind that those stores have security cameras which are more then likely digital. This means they record you and store you near forever. Also they can zoom in and examine a pimple on your face from a city block away. No lie! They can also, since they are computers be used to track you through the entire store in real time catching any exposure of your face. This is important because if the phone is compromised in some way they will go to where it was purchased and see who bought it OR the prepaid cards.
ALSO REMEMBER TO PAY CASH!!!!
If you recall a few years ago a couple arabs were buying prepaid cell phones and were arrested for terror activities for buying "too many" at one time. Keep your situational awarness going.
You can buy the phones for $20 and cards for the same, more or less depending on minutes. I have a spare one I keep in my urban SHTF it which is not "secure" for me to play with. I have to buy a $20 card every 4 months to keep it active. For me this is cheap insurance if my cell phone dies or gets dropped into the toilet again. Don't ask.
My first purchase was a T-mobile phone. You could activate it from the phone but it never worked for me. Not sure if it was a dud or what.
My second purchase was a Tracphone. It had to be initially turned on with an active phone. I used my house phone (compromised). Other ones I would use public pay phones. Keep in mind OPSEC when you use them. Malls, gas stations and other places are full of cameras.
I would like to find one that didn't need a live phone to start it from. Verizon and a dozen other companies make them so I'm sure there are others.
Needless to say, don't activate it from your living room.
You could buy a dozen prepaid cell phones and cards today and put them away for that "rainy day". As long as you don't activate (and get a phone number) they will remain good. Unless the company goes out of business.
Having several of the same brand will allow you to use the same batteries and chargers. Having several of different brands will give you a little more security since they need to know which service you are using then say getting a record of every Tracphone in a 20 mile radius of your house. Not hard for the to do but don't give them anything easily.
Once you have this phone, you absolutely do not use it for regular BS, calling family, secret crap or anything else or it is compromised. It needs to remain sterile today for tomorrow.
You can add your friends numbers into it or carry a card with important numbers (such as your comrades, units, safe house's prepaid cell phones). If you lose your cell phone you give up your contacts. Better would be to memorize them but under stress you won't recall numbers you don't call (such as their sterile prepaid phone). If you do keep numbers in your phone, use codes for the people, for instance XXXXX could be "old geezer". His number could also be changed a few digits to keep it secure.
If his number is 123-456-7890 and you were born on 12/15, subtract 15 from the 456 to give you 123-441-7890. I chose the first three number because it gives a wider area to search then the few thousand people who have a 456 exchange number. You could also reverse and switch area ad exchange to give you 654-321-7890. Whatever you do make sure you remember it. This is not fullproof but will give you time if your phone is taken.
I also use my non-sterile prepaid phone for my combat communications. A cell phone will transmit around the world as long as cell phones work and you have a tower. No radio can compare to them that we have easy access too.