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Phone Number Search

What is a Phone Number Lookup?

A phone number search is a service, application or software that reveals a caller's identity. It is also known as a phone number lookup or reverse phone lookup. A Phone number lookup assembles user data from various sources including the database of the carrier. Typically, the search will provide the personal information of the subscriber including their name and location.

Reverse phone number search tools are often web-based. Some are free to use, whereas others require a subscription. The service is especially useful to track someone down, identify spam callers or phone scams. Phone number lookups are also useful for criminal investigation and background checks.

What is a Phone Number?

Cell phone numbers are a series of digits assigned to a telephone line or subscriber. It is a kind of numerical address that someone can enter or dial when they want to reach the phone of another person or business.

US phone numbers are 10-digits long and consist of two parts: a 3-digit area code and a 7-digit local telephone number. The area code identifies the specific geographic region from which a phone number originates in the United States. Meanwhile, the 7-digit telephone number further comprises a 3-digit central office code and a 4-digit subscriber number:

  • The central office code, also referred to as an exchange code or prefix, is assigned by the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) to a state-approved local service provider. It reveals a specific central office (a telecommunications company's switching facility) inside an area code.
  • The subscriber number identifies a particular telephone subscriber. Notably, businesses often stylize the subscriber number to a word, phrase, or acronym for easy recall by their customers or to create brand awareness. This phone number is referred to as a vanity number. For example, 1-888-REALTY.

Altogether, the standard U.S. phone number format is (NXX) NXX-XXXX, where "N" represents a number from 2 through 9, and "X" stands for any number from 0 through 9.

It should be noted that the +1 U.S. country code, while not usually included when making local calls, is included when making calls into the United States. Local calls combine only the area code and telephone number as a 10-digit number, i.e., the (NXX) NXX-XXXX. However, to complete local calls in certain states like California and some regions in Michigan, one may need to add "1" before the area code and telephone number.

What is a Reverse Phone Number Lookup?

A reverse phone number lookup is another name for a phone number search. Providers of these online search services often use the terms interchangeably, but many use the former.

Reverse phone number lookups offer a fast and convenient way to find the personal details attached to a telephone number (landline or cell). This type of service is useful to persons who want to know if it is necessary to return or ignore a missed call/text message and to persons curious or suspicious about a cell phone number. A reverse phone lookup can only help someone who already has said phone number to dig up information about the owner. However, it is not a means of obtaining another person's phone number.

Is Reverse Phone Lookup Legal?

Yes, reverse phone lookup is legal in the United States. Reverse phone lookup services use public records to provide information about who a phone number belongs to. Since the creation and publication of telephone directories in February 1878, reverse lookup services have evolved from phone books, otherwise known as white or yellow pages into their online, remotely-accessible alternatives.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, any US citizen can request access to public records. This includes information about who owns a phone number.

However, there are several caveats to using this information, as stated in the Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act of 2006. This law makes it illegal to use reverse phone lookup services:

  • To make solicitation calls or telemarketing calls
  • To stalk or harass someone
  • To commit fraud

While government-run databases typically maintain phone information of state/county residents, access to these databases are, in some cases, restricted to U.S. law enforcement agencies who use reverse phone lookup databases when investigating criminal activity. However, while third-party reverse lookup services are a suitable alternative, there are several limitations to the use of some of these services:

  • Depending on the resources available, reverse phone lookup services may be unable to locate unlisted or unpublished numbers
  • The information available through select services may be outdated

Who Can Conduct a Reverse Phone Number Lookup?

In the United States, the provisions for the dissemination of phone number related data is specified under the Freedom of Information Act. The act permits access to public information held by government-run agencies. Per this law, aggregate sites may also obtain and publish public data, provided said information is not used in violation of the FCRA. At state level, each US state adopts and enforces various variations of the FOIA, allowing members of the public inspect and copy public record information unless otherwise specified by state statute. However, selected jurisdictions have separate (but limited) provisions for accessing the information of at-risk persons and government officials. For instance, California’s Safe at Home program allows crime victims, public appointees and elected persons, public safety officials and personnel in critical services to request that their information be removed from public databases.

What Information Can I Get From Reverse Phone Lookup?

Information that may be extracted from a reverse phone lookup includes the owners full name and location. Besides these basic details, some sites provide more information about the owner, including:

  • The phone carrier
  • Aliases and additional phone numbers
  • Email address
  • Social and dating profiles
  • Family members
  • Address history (past addresses)

The information obtained from a reverse lookup may also be used as search queries to obtain criminal records, court record information or employment related data. However, searchers must use the information according to the provisions of the Fair credit reporting act unless the information is obtained from a consumer reporting agency.

How Can I Find Out Who Called me From This Phone Number?

Persons with queries like ‘who called me from this phone number’ may obtain the desired information using lookup tools and services.

With phone number search tools, the key is finding a provider that can disseminate the information sought, and do so with accuracy. Some search applications may offer only basic information, like an owner's name, email, or street address. Others may compile several other records on the phone number's owner and offer them to the inquirer (these applications are usually fee-based).

Regardless of the search interface used, the steps to check this phone number are similar:

  1. Open the preferred site (or sites) on an internet browser.
  2. Input the unknown caller's phone number where indicated, and hit the search tab.
  3. View the available details.

It is also crucial to find a search application that works with U.S. phone numbers or those relevant to the phone number of interest. This is because a telephone subscriber's details may change over time, and some applications may not reflect this change in the search results. Again, some services do not support U.S. phone number searches, and some can only be accessed by people living in the United States and its territories.

How to Choose a Reverse Phone Lookup Service

There are many factors to consider when choosing a reverse phone lookup service. They include:

  1. Accuracy and Data Sources: The most important thing to look for in a reverse phone lookup service is the accuracy of the service. This is primarily determined by the quality of the data that the service has access to. The best reverse phone lookup services have access to multiple data sources, which gives them the most accurate information possible. Users may check out other user reviews to get an idea of the accuracy of the service before signing up.
  2. Cost: There are free and paid reverse phone lookup services available. Free services will typically have ads or will provide limited information with the promise of more extensive data for subscribed users. The cost of paid services can also vary and users must consider this critically before use.
  3. Ease of Use: The best reverse phone lookup services are easy to use and allow users to find the information they need quickly and easily. Be sure to check out the user interface of the service before signing up to make sure it is easy to use.
  4. Customer Support: Users who have problems with a reverse phone lookup service will need to contact customer support for help. Hence, customer support options of the service are also an important factor to consider.

How Do I Find a Business Phone Number?

To find a business phone number, the requesting party may also conduct a search online by entering the business name into a search engine. If the business is listed in a directory, the phone number will be listed there as well. If the business is not listed, the requesting party may try contacting the business through its website.

How to Find a Business Address With a Phone Number

There are a few different ways to find a business address with a phone number. One way is to use a reverse phone directory. This type of directory will have a listing of all businesses in the United States, and users can usually find the address associated with a phone number by using the number as a search query.

Another way to find a business address is by using an online search engine. Simply enter the phone number into the search field, and the website for the business in question will be listed. Once on the website, the user can look for an "About Us" or "Contact Us" page that will have the company's address listed.

Can Someone Find Me By My Phone Number?

Yes. If an individual’s information is listed in a directory or any online database, it will be available online. All the requestor would be required to do is check this phone number using a reliable reverse phone lookup software or by searching a social media site. However, the information available to the searcher will vary with the resource being used.

Can I Get a Phone Number Lookup Free?

Yes. Several online phone lookup services offer non-paid options to the public. However, most free lookup tools limit the quantity of information obtainable and the number of searches that can be performed per day.

Nonetheless, some free phone lookup tools are known for proffering useful information (such as a phone number owner's name and address). The easiest option for a free phone number lookup would be to check this phone number by entering it into a popular search engine or a social media network’s search box. While these sites do not advertise as phone number search services, but they are free to access and have millions of users whose cell phone numbers are tied to their personal/business profiles or pages.

Can I Conduct a Free Phone Number Lookup By Name?

While there are online options for conducting a free phone number lookup by name, these numbers are likely to only be found if they are listed publicly. For landline numbers, requestors may be able to find the number through a reverse directory.

Is there a Free Reverse Phone Lookup Service?

There are a number of free reverse phone lookup services available online. However, many of these services only provide limited information and restrict access to extensive information to paying subscribers.

What is a Reverse Phone Directory?

A reverse phone directory is an information index which is published in print and distributed to law enforcement, public libraries, phone companies, and other government or commercial agencies. These instruments were often referred to as cross directories, gray pages or white pages and were different from the regular telephone directories, whose search queries were constrained to a name or address. Reverse phone directories, instead, searched for users by their phone number.

Today, reverse phone directories are no longer printed for purchase and have mostly moved to the internet to accommodate digital tastes. As an alternative to white pages, government repositories and third-party aggregate sites offer reverse phone number lookup services in various degrees to interested and eligible members of the public.

How to Find A Person in the U.S.

Anyone who wishes to find a person in the United States has a few handy options. The first is a people search database (also called a people finder site). This database is similar to a reverse phone lookup. However, instead of searching for users by their cell phone number, one can use details such as a name (first and last) and location (city, state, ZIP code) to complete the search.

Again, like reverse phone lookup tools, it is important to use a people search software that is user friendly, and able to disseminate accurate information. A novice can begin with a general search for the best people search sites in the United States. Good reviews, speedy results, cost, and a clean interface are among the criteria to consider when picking a service.

The other method to find a person in the United States only applies if certain information is known about them, such as where they work, if they are incarcerated/detained, if they own adriver's license or credit card, etc. To illustrate, some states and government agencies, like the Indiana state government and Agricultural Research Service, provide web-based tools to help interested parties find information on their current employees. This includes an employee's full name, job title, location, phone/fax number, and email address.

Third-Party Phone Search Services

Many third-party phone search services exist to provide people with phone number information. These services are offered by companies in the business of collecting public information about a person from a variety of sources and disseminating it to interested members of the public.

Most phone search services can be found on the internet. Some charge nothing to the user but provide only basic information, such as a phone number owner's full name, age, previous/past address, and other known details.

Others provide basic contact information but go further to include data from public records in a comprehensive report. For example, traffic records, criminal records, property ownership details, photographs, birth information, financial records, professional licenses, possible connections (relatives and associates), etc. Usually, when a person encounters this type of service, the additional background information will be blurred out or locked until they create an account with an email address or pay a subscription fee. This fee varies by the service provider, and it is often charged on a monthly basis until the subscriber cancels.

How to Lookup A VoIP Number

A VoIP number (which stands for Voice over Internet Protocol number) is a phone number allocated to a person when they register for a VoIP service. It works like a regular telephone number and is very similar to a landline. However, unlike traditional landline numbers, a VoIP number is not restricted to a single device, and a subscriber does not require a phone carrier to make a call or send a text, only an internet connection. It may be easier to think of a VoIP number as a virtual phone number that facilitates calls from internet-enabled devices (smartphones, desktops, tablets, laptops).

VoIP numbers have several benefits over conventional phone numbers, including:

  • The choice of picking an area code different from one's actual location.
  • Easier accessibility, flexibility, and convenience: A VoIP user is only constrained by their bandwidth, and their phone number can work with multiple devices simultaneously. That is to say, so long as a person calls that number, the owner can receive the call on any connected device. Furthermore, even if a subscriber relocates, they can keep using their VoIP number without calling a telephone company for an update, as with traditional landlines.
  • Lower cost: Because a VoIP number uses the internet to connect a call, the costs associated with maintaining the line - even after including the VoIP service's fees and premium features - are less expensive when compared to landline charges.
  • Use of toll-free numbers.

For these reasons, VoIP numbers have become a popular choice among businesses and individuals in today's world.

With the widespread use of VoIP numbers, it is inevitable that someone will receive a call or text from an unknown VoIP number. Fortunately, there are a few methods to uncover the person behind the number:

  • Use a reverse phone lookup service (explained above)
  • Contact the VoIP service provider
  • Configure one's device to display CNAM (caller ID name) and IP address.

Contact the VoIP Service Provider

An individual can reach out to a VoIP service provider to discover who owns a VoIP number. A provider will typically require a caller ID and a timestamp (the exact time of the call) to process the request. However, retrieving someone's identity depends on whether the party used a registered caller ID or IP address to make the call. If the caller faked their ID or IP address, the service provider would probably fail to identify them.

When confronted with a fake caller ID, an individual can ask the service provider for a CNAM lookup. It is almost impossible to forge a caller ID name, unlike a caller ID. However, VoIP service providers usually only perform a CNAM lookup for subscribers, and a person may need to offer a justification for their request. Individuals who prefer not to sign up for a service can still carry out a CNAM search using a web-based tool, but it requires some technical expertise.

Configure Device to Display CNAM and IP Address

An individual can set up their device to store data from incoming calls. Persons using a VoIP device can install a package or network protocol analyzer on their phone and activate the SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) filter. However, the filter must be enabled before the call comes in. By obtaining the CNAM or IP address this way, an individual can cut out the service provider and find a person's identity using a reverse phone number or IP address lookup tool.

Phone Number Searches With Data Action Integration

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines a data action as a system operation that processes personally identifiable information. This technology is broadly relevant to customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, otherwise called customer service software.

Businesses typically use customer service software for customer support reasons. Essentially, it helps a company build better relationships with customers by tracking, managing, and consolidating customer inquiries across multiple channels. Nonetheless, CRM platforms are not constrained to customer support teams; they can also benefit several teams in a company, including sales, marketing, and IT.

CRM systems boast a number of features that help enhance and personalize the customer experience, such as live chat, phone support, mobile messaging, tracking and reporting, automation, and video chat. These platforms also integrate with third-party applications to allow users to expand functions, bring out data, trigger targeted actions, etc. One example is data action integration.

Considering the size of information that may be stored in a CRM database, a data action integration allows a person to use custom and static commands to sift through data. For example, an administrator can use a data action integration to look up customer details by phone number.

What is a Phone Number Area Code?

The United States is split into geographic numbering plan areas called area codesby the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). NANP is a telephone numbering scheme used by 20 countries in North America and the Caribbean, including the United States (and territories), Barbados, Canada, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and others.

Section 52.7 of the U.S. Federal Regulations defines an area code as the first three digits of a 10-digit telephone number. That is, the "(NXX)" in an (NXX) NXX-XXXX phone number format. Another name for an area code is a numbering plan area or NPA.

Generally, there are two main phone number area codes in the United States: local and toll-free. A toll-free area code is the first set of three digits in a toll-free number, a phone number that carries no charge when dialed from a landline phone but may carry airtime charges if dialed from a cell phone. Companies and organizations typically apply this number toward long-distance calls from consumers. The toll-free codes in the United States begin with 800, 833, 844, 855, 866, 877, and 888.

On the other hand, a local area code corresponds to a particular state, city, or town within the United States. Of the 50 U.S. states, some states have multiple area codes, and others have just one or two. California has the most area codes (36), given its large populace, followed by Texas (27), New York (19), and Florida (18). Interested persons can consult a state's Public Utility Commission on the available area codes or use NANPA's interactive map to view U.S. area codes by state.

It is worth mentioning that, previously, an area code was a set of numbers that a U.S. resident had to dial before a telephone number when calling someone in a different region of the country, sometimes in the same region. However, as of October 24, 2021, various states and area codes in the U.S. now have mandatory 10-digit dialing. As such, even when calling a neighbor in such places, an individual must add a 3-digit area code to the 7-digit telephone number to complete the call.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the compulsory 10-digit-dialing applies to 82 area codes in 35 states and one U.S. territory, and it was engineered to accommodate the new nationwide 3-digit number, 988, which will become active on July 16, 2022, as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The FCC offers more information about this change on its Numbering Resources webpage.

How to Block A Phone Number

Recipients of spam calls and phone scams may choose to block a phone number. The most common method is to contact their service provider and have them add the number to their blocked call list. This will ensure that any calls from that number are immediately disconnected.

Another way to block a phone number is to download a call blocker app. These third-party apps work by either blocking all incoming calls from unknown numbers or by allowing them to manually add numbers to a blacklist.

Finally, phone owners can also use their phone's built-in blocking features to block a number. For most phones, the feature is available by navigating to Settings > Phone > Blocked Contacts and adding the number to the list.

How to Hide Your Phone Number

You can hide your phone number using a prepaid phone or a VoIP service. This is especially useful for persons who have safety or privacy concerns. Consequently, inquirers will be unable to check this phone number using reverse lookup tools or phone number search services.

A prepaid phone or a service that provides temporary or burner phone numbers. This can be useful for online dating or classified ads and the number can be discarded afterwards. On the other hand, a VoIP service uses the internet to place calls instead of traditional phone lines. This has the added benefit of often being cheaper than standard phone service. Interested persons may also hide their phone numbers using third-party apps or the phone’s inbuilt alternative.