Very often when you get a call from someone unknown, you’ll see a number that you don’t recognize. Since you don’t know this person, it can be quite normal to avoid this caller altogether, since calling them back might seem a bit odd. In any case, if you happen to be curious, or want to investigate someone who’s trying to harass you, there exist services and tools you can use that allow you to perform what’s called a Reverse Phone Lookup. You can find these services on a number of different websites, although most of them tend to offer the same kind of information if you only use free services.
What to Expect
When you use free reverse phone lookup services such as whitepages.com, phonelookup.com, and many more, they will simply offer a prompt where you can enter in the phone number that you want to look up. If the number is unlisted, the most that you’ll be able to get is the general location and carrier behind the number, as well as whether it’s a cell phone, landline, VoIP number, and so on.
Deeper lookups are usually hidden behind a paywall, and even then results are not guaranteed. Finding the actual owner of a phone number is a bit more difficult, and often relies on user-maintained databases of information rather than official sources of phone numbers.
Are they legal?
Reverse phone lookup services are about as legal as an ordinary phonebook. They base most of their information on actual phonebook directories, but since a lot of people like to remain unlisted, these online services may not be as useful as they could be. Still, they are quite easy to use, much easier than an ordinary phonebook. All you have to do is enter in the desired phone number, and you’ll get results back.
A Few Services
As mentioned, whitepages.com and phonelookup.com are both decent services with free reverse lookups available. They both offer very similar kinds of information such as line type, address or general location, and so on. Another good one is cellrevealer.us, which makes use of a private directory.
Due to things like number porting (when switching from one carrier to another), it’s possible for the information you get to be a little dated and/or inaccurate. Overall, though, they all tend to work fairly well, especially if the owner in question has decided to keep their number published in well-known directories.
Free vs. Paid
If you decide that you don’t want to pay for reverse phone lookup services, the information you get back will likely be limited in some fashion. Do note that some of the information hidden behind these paywalls may be easily accessible in a simple phonebook. If so, you’re mostly paying for the convenience of a computer automatically picking out the information for you.
For many people, having the general information provided by free reverse phone lookups is adequate for narrowing down their search. Most of the time you will not need detailed owner information unless you’re trying to catch or report criminal activity.