How To Guide: Reverse Phone Lookup

Reverse Phone Lookup 101: Everything You Need to Know About Reverse Phone Lookup

Reverse phone lookup is a handy tool for any business. It’s useful if your business misses a call and you’d like to know who you’re following up with.

Or if a customer gives you incomplete information.

Or if finding people based on tidbits of personal information is your business, reverse phone lookup is for you.

Whatever the case, having more information about customers is better. Not only that, but reverse phone lookup can help customers find your business. So the benefits go both ways.

Here’s everything you need to know about using reverse phone lookup:

How Reverse Phone Lookup Works

Reverse phone lookup for landlines is fairly simple.

Landline phone numbers that are or were attached to the PSTN (public switched telephone network) are listed in phone books published by phone companies.

Paper phone directories have been transferred to computers. All the information is available online now. Any phone number that was listed in the phone book can be found using a simple internet search.

An internet search is especially effective for businesses. Businesses want to be found, so if you do a reverse phone lookup for a business landline phone number, you’ll almost always get at least the business name and address.

The exceptions are:

  • Unlisted phone numbers.
  • Fax numbers.
  • Cell phone numbers.
  • VoIP phone numbers.

These numbers are either intentionally left out of phone listings, or they aren’t connected to the PSTN. In either case, phone companies usually don’t collect or publish information associated with these numbers.

This means that there’s no central database for fax, cell phone, and VoIP numbers. The data is spread out among different people and entities. So, information for these types of numbers can be trickier to find.

Searching the web for a number that’s not in the directory may still turn up some results if the owner of the phone number has listed their number in places like Facebook or has attached their cell phone number to a business listing. But a basic Google search isn’t very effective for doing reverse cell phone number lookups.

However, there are services that track down cell phone and other unlisted numbers if you really need to find one.

Is Reverse Phone Lookup Legal?

Short answer: yes, reverse phone lookup is legal.

There’s no law against finding or accessing information using a reverse phone lookup, or for what types of phones you can use reverse phone lookup for.

Long answer: yes, but be careful. It’s legal to get information using a reverse phone lookup. However, if you’re a business, there could be rules for how you use that information.

For example, the Amazon Terms of Service for Amazon sellers have specific guidelines for what you can and cannot do with customers’ personal information. Violating the Amazon seller TOS can get you booted from selling on Amazon forever.

Also, even though it may not be technically illegal, using someone’s address or email address without permission can irritate people or make your business seem scammy.

There’s one last thing. US privacy laws may get some overhaul in the wake of the GDPR implementation, so using the information you get with a reverse phone lookup could be even more restricted in the future.

You won’t break any laws just by getting information with a reverse phone lookup. But what you do with that information could get you in hot water.

Brush up on laws that apply to your industry before you start using any information you find.

How to Do a Reverse Cell Phone Lookup

As I said earlier, reverse phone lookups for unlisted or cell phone numbers can be spotty.

Google’s Phonebook Operator used to be capable of performing reverse cell phone lookups.

However, Google received so many requests to have numbers removed from their index that they shut down the Phonebook Operator in 2010, making it much more challenging to do a reverse cell phone lookup today.

Here are some tips to prepare you for doing a reverse phone lookup:

  1. It can take a lot of time. Since there’s no unified database for cell phone numbers, you’ll have to dig around quite a bit. If you’ve got a lot of phone numbers to lookup, you could be investing a significant chunk of time in searching.
  2. The information you find may not be accurate. You won’t be able to verify the information yourself. Depending on how and where you find the data, you may be able to reasonably presume that it’s valid. But it’s likely you’ll just have to go with whatever you find.
  3. There’s a good chance that you won’t find the information you’re looking for. People are getting smarter about their information. So, there’s less information sitting out where you can easily find it.

Now that you know what you’re getting into, here are the best ways to do a reverse cell phone lookup:

  • Check Search Engines.

Although it’s rare that searching Google turns up conclusive results, it’s still possible. The best case scenario is that the phone number you’re checking will have an attached business.

You’ll easily find business information attached to phone numbers.

Reverse phone lookup using Google.

Usually, you’ll get a mishmash of results.

If the phone number search turns up a Facebook page, it’s your lucky day.

Now, it’s not 100% guaranteed that you’ve got the person who actually owns that phone number. The original owner could have gotten a new phone number and never updated it on their Facebook page. But social media matches are some of the most reliable ones you can get with an internet search.

If you have additional information about the person, like a username or even a zip code, adding that to your reverse cell phone lookup could help turn up better results.

Also, toss the phone number in some other search engines like Yahoo! and Bing. Every search engine has its own search algorithm and web spiders. This means it’s possible that one of the other search engines will churn up something that Google didn’t.

If you’ve still got nothing, don’t give up yet. There are other options.

  • Check Social Networks

Although Google can turn up some information from social networks, using the search engine in the social networking apps themselves is better for scraping information.

Use social networks for reverse phone lookup searches.

Searching niche social networking sites and old ones like MySpace is also a good thing to try. Defunct social networks usually don’t turn up in Google searches because the sites gets so little traffic (RIP MySpace). But there are still a lot of old profiles sitting around in there that people have forgotten. They might still have some information on their page.

This method is especially effective if you have something like a username to add to your search criteria.

At this point, if you’ve still come up empty handed, there’s one more place to look.

  • Use a People Search Tool

There are search engines specifically for finding people. There are plenty of free people search engines and reverse phone lookup tools that might get a bite for you.

Check free reverse phone lookup tools.

However, it’s important to note that most free people searches don’t have access to more information than you do. They just have search technology specifically designed for finding personal information.

This also means that free people finders can’t guarantee that the information they find is valid. So, the reverse cell phone lookup may return information. But it’s unverified.

If you’ve still got nothing, it may be time to turn to professional services.

How to Get Verified Information Using Reverse Phone Lookup

While the free reverse phone lookup methods work sometimes, the trouble is that it’s nearly impossible to verify the information you find without some help.

There are services that provide reverse phone lookups and deliver verified information.

These services scour the white and yellow pages. They also check information sources that free services usually don’t. These sources include:

  • Public records (court records, marriage records, death records, voting rolls).
  • Specialized databases.
  • Caller ID records.

Using multiple sources means that these services can cross reference data and ensure that you’re getting the correct information.

Most of the time, you can get information from the yellow and white pages for free.

However, if you need information from the more confidential sources or the phone number isn’t available in the white and yellow pages, you may need to pay to have these sources searched.

But these searches are fast and often inexpensive.

If you’re using reverse phone lookups for your business, these services are usually the best option. If you get incorrect information from a free search, it could damage your company reputation and hurt your bottom line.

Reverse phone lookup services are also ideal for businesses that need to get information for a lot of phone numbers. Doing your own searches for even a dozen phone numbers could take hours. Using a batch append service is the most efficient way to get information for large volumes of phone numbers.

Use batch append services to verify email addresses in bulk.

So, if you’ve got just a few phone numbers to work on, give the free methods a try. Who knows? You might get some hits.

But if you’ve got a whole phone list worth of phone numbers to lookup, it may be time to find yourself a good reverse phone lookup service. You’ll be glad you did!

Leave a comment and let us know which search method worked best for you, or check out our reverse phone lookup tool to lookup phone numbers now.


Verify Phone Lookup

A verify phone lookup can be performed on SearchBug in two ways. The first is to just verify a phone number line type, the second would be to verify and lookup the phone owner name.

If you’re simply trying to verify if a phone number is a cell phone or a land line then the SearchBug Identify Phone Number tool is the simplest solution. You can Identify one phone number at a time at no charge (daily limits apply). If you have batches of phone numbers there is also a manual batch process a self service phone batch process and a SaaS API integrated real-time solution.

If you’re looking to append phone records to verify the line type, OCN, LNP Rate Center or any other type of phone data to a phone list the Searchbug batch and SaaS API tools can save you time and a small fortune. You can clean and append small batches (under 50,000) for as little as $5 per 1,000 and large batches (several million) can be lower than $1 per 1,000. Almost any type of data is available to append.

Collection agencies rely on the system to weed out cell phones to avoid legal issues with calling cell phones for collections. Text message marketing companies rely on the system to weed out the landlines to avoid wasting money trying to send SMS to a land line. Other industries rely on OCN and other identifiers to figure out the Carrier or rate center for targeted marketing programs.  It’s amazing how much information you can get from a phone number a $0.005 to $0.02 cents.

And if you’re looking to verify phone lookup, searchbug can help with that too. To Verify a Phone number and lookup the name or other pertinent information searchbug can obtain real-time verified reverse phone lookup information.  Simply checkout the reverse phone lookup in the people finder section and conduct a people finder by phone.


How to Avoid Reverse Phone Lookup Scams

How to Avoid Reverse Phone Lookup Scams

This is a follow up post to my blog about Know Your Data Broker where I talked about Tamara Thompson’s blog.

I conducted some simple research to show the differences between what’s available online regarding the various reverse phone lookup searches and will show three very different examples to include what bad web sites do to trick consumers and what a good web site should do to show they are trustworthy.

As usual, I will also include what SearchBug does and what makes us different (and better) and why SearchBug customers appreciate everything we do.

First test subject was found via a Google Advertisement. This company pays for traffic and has to use tricks to get customers. When I visited cellphonenumberlookups123 [dot] com it looks professional enough but has an annoying gentlemen telling me it’s a “premier” service. I’m sorry, he is annoying.

At first glance I want to see the contact us page. I expect to see a phone number, fax number and address for a legitimate company that wants me to enter payment information online. How can I trust a company that won’t even provide a mailing address or phone number.

The image below is a screen shot of the contact page I found on their web site. As you can see, no phone number or address anywhere. But they do say, that you can reach them via phone for help, however to get the phone number, I had to engage in a live chat session during business hours.

During my chat session I asked why the phone or address was not available on the web site. I was not provided with that answer.  I was however given a phone number for customer service but was encourage to email them. No way to tell if I was dealing with someone at the company or if it was outsourced to a third party.

Now on to my test searches.  I purposefully used an invalid phone number to see what web sites would tell me. Would they tell me it was invalid or offer any information, or just try to take my money?

Upon entering my fake phone number 555-234-5678 this web site shows a “processing” screen which took almost 20 seconds (a big waste of time for nothing, other than to make customers think they are really trying to find stuff). Remember, this is the age of computers, we can tell if the number is valid or invalid in split seconds. Here is the first of 4 screens I had to endure to get to the end.

Click on any image to enlarge it and read my comments on the screen shots

After this screen came the next screen in the series.

Here they try and convince me that they found
information for the bogus number I entered.

When I click that continue to next step button I get the screen below which tries to convince me they are searching for even more stuff for some reason.

Now comes the third sales page that tries to tell me
I can get the information I want for just $1.00
Here comes the checkout page,
the fine print is really scary. 

It basically says for your $1.00
you get a 7 day trial 
to some type of service
and after 7 days you’ll be billed
$18.95 per month until you cancel.
Remember, this is all for a phone number I know is Bogus, and here they still try and tell you they found your information, want you to pay $1.00 for it and sign you up for an $18.95 monthly subscription.
That is what I call “wrong”. Caveat Emptor – Let the Buyer Beware

Next up – we have Reversephonedirectory [dot] com. These guys appear to be a landing page or reseller for Intelius because when you click thru pages you end up back on Intelius. Here you can clearly see they tell you there are 8 results in some premium database but they don’t give you any hint on the names.
Also, if the number is invalid, why don’t they tell you that? Seems that they don’t reveal that information. They do show you the cities and states, and as far as I know, a phone number can’t really be from several different states unless it was a cell phone and the owner moved and kept their number.  But they don’t tell you if it’s a land line or a cell phone either?

Now we have Intelius and USSearch. Since Intelius now owns and operates USSearch, I would expect similar results from a company their size.  The interesting thing here is that these guys have more computer engineers than any of the other people search web sites in the USA. Why they only tell you the number is invalid and nothing else amazes me.
At lease USSearch shows it big enough to see. Intelius is whispering the information like it’s a secret or something. 
There are hundreds of other examples of similar web sites. The important thing to keep in mind is to make sure the web site is reputable, has their address and phone number clearly displayed on the web site and provides enough information for you to make an informed decision if you want to do business with them or not.
You know I saved the best for last. Here is the same number entered into the SearchBug system. Note that we tell you the number is Likely to be Invalid in big letters. We also tell you the reason (because 555 is a fictitious area code).  We also tell you the line type, carrier and calling area are unknown (likely because the area code is fictitious).
So why would there be any names or addresses found in public records for a bogus phone number?  Well, these are public records and as such get input from many resources. Even though the number is invalid, people evidently used the number on documents that end up in public domain and databases that are made available to the public and data brokers.
Keep in mind that because the phone number is fictitious the names and addresses could also be fictitious, however it’s impossible to check the information until the full records are purchased.
SearchBug tries to manage customer expectations, providing as much information as possible to let their customers make informed decisions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Noah Wieder is CEO of SearchBug, Inc. and the founder of Best People Search. offers a Free People Finder and Company Search as well as Data Scrubbing Services. is a private investigator portal and Information Retrieval Services web site where investigators offer searches to businesses and individuals with specific search needs.

Reverse Phone Lookup

Reverse Phone Lookup

The long awaited redesign of the SearchBug Reverse Phone Lookup tool is complete. Over a Dozen data sources combined into one tool – over 4 months in development. The search includes free access to published listings, something SearchBug Calls White Pages +, since they search more than just the regular white pages for free.

If your search results are found in the white pages or free resources it’s shown on the screen for free, no B.S. Why pay for something if it can be found free?

If nothing is found in published directories, the reverse phone lookup tool will automatically search through hundreds of millions of public records as well as third party commercially available private databases. If the reverse phone lookup locates records you’ll actually see a portion of what is available prior to committing to order (don’t let the small fee fool you, this is one great value).

SearchBug does not try and sell you a membership to a database that tells you it found information when it really didn’t. Go ahead, try and fool it, enter bogus numbers – you’ll see no information found or invalid entry. If a number is valid and not found, the system will suggest alternate ways of locating the information.

What will the reverse phone lookup find. Well it will scour:

  • White Pages
  • Yellow Pages
  • Public Records
  • Cell Phone Databases
  • Other specialized sources

* Verified Current Owner Search and Professional Investigator searches are also available.