Monday, April 21, 2014

Peeling Back the Curtains on Unknown Numbers

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,, 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, and 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, 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.

Make International Calls using Prepaid Cards

When making international calls, it can often get very expensive when you try to go through your regular landline or cell phoneservice. They will often charge quite a bit per minute or hour, which can add up extremely quickly if you’re the talkative type. Phone service providers are getting a little better at this with flat monthly rates that get you international calls as well, but if you don’t call internationally very often, it may not be worth it to pay the extra monthly price. A good way to fix this is to use prepaid cards to make your international calls. They offer a number of benefits over a regular monthly plan.

Cheaper Prices

The biggest advantage of prepaid cards is the fact that they’re significantly cheaper. Prepaid cards can go for rates as cheap as 0.8 cents a minute. That’s right; a fraction of a cent every minute! If you only make international calls every now and then, to connect with relatives in another country for example, then you can save a lot of money simply by using prepaid cards. Additionally, you typically only have to pay for exactly what it states on the card; there are no hidden fees or charges.

Only Pay for What You Want

As touched upon, besides the fact that prepaid cards are cheaper, there’s the fact that you only need to pay for exactly as much service as you need. Typically a card will allot you a specific number of minutes at a specific rate, both of which will be clearly stated on the card. This means that you can pick and choose the amount of minutes and service that you need, allowing you to save even more money over traditional monthly plans.


Of course, you can’t mention prepaid cards without mentioning the convenience factor. You will often find these prepaid cards hanging from retail shelves, where you can easily pick them up and purchase. Many of these cards can also be purchased online.

Prepaid cards also happen to be pretty versatile, whether they’re physical cards or virtual cards. Most of them offer a way to add international minutes to nearly any kind of mobile device that you may have. For example, the PennyTalk service offers an app for Android, iOS, and Blackberry, ensuring that you can use their rates wherever you go.

Other Thoughts

As mentioned, the rate of prepaid cards can go as low as a fraction of a cent, depending on where you decide to call. More typical rates are closer to 1 or 2 cents a minute. This can often be a much better solution to international calling than paying an extra $10 or more per month on top of your regular phone service.

All of this said, if it so happens that you call internationally very often, it may be more convenient to go with a monthly plan. Most people, however, don’t need to call overseas so often, making prepaid cards the best solution for saving money on these types of calls. Your pocketbook will certainly thank you!