It’s becoming easier than ever to identify a caller from a telephone number, thanks to the fact that every phone now displays it on the screen. If you’re using a landline, you’ll often even get the name of the person calling. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case with smartphones, which means you’ll usually find yourself staring at a number with no idea whether to answer or not.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
You can identify a caller from a telephone number through a basic Google search or by using an app or website.
What Is the Phone Number?
The first step in figuring out who’s calling you is telephone number identification. Sure, a number is displayed on your screen every time you get a call, but is that number accurate? Instead of coming up as “Unknown,” these days telemarketers display as a false phone number, often even in your own area code.
If sending every mystery call to voicemail isn’t an option, it might be worth considering one of the many apps dedicated to identifying spammers.
If you get multiple calls from the same telemarketer, you can easily block the number using features built into your smartphone. Unfortunately, these callers may change their numbers on a regular basis, so blocking may not be very effective.
Free Reverse Phone Lookup Service
Of course, the first place most people go when a call comes through is Google. If the call is from a legitimate business, and that business lists its phone number on its website, it will show up as a top search result. But if it’s from an individual or telemarketer, you’ll likely see a page full of search results that offer little information.
There are plenty of free reverse phone lookup services, but you’ll get limited information unless it’s a site that lets the public report spammy phone numbers. OKCaller.com lets customers mark a number as “safe” or “not safe,” with “not safe” referring to callers that have been reported as problematic.
Using Reverse Phone Lookup
The problem with reverse phone number lookup services is that by the time you look up the number, it’s likely too late to answer. If you aren’t required to answer every call that comes to your phone for work reasons, it might be worthwhile to send all unknown numbers to voicemail while you research the callers.
Most reverse phone number look up sites (who-Called.me, 800-numbers.net, etc.) are either limited because they rely on user submissions and therefore are mostly limited to landlines with publicly listed numbers and spam numbers, or they cost money like Info Tracer, Reverse Phone Check and PhoneRegistry.com.
To use any reverse lookup site, simply enter the number and review the results. Over time, you’ll identify one service that is particularly useful and go directly there when a call comes in. It may take a little extra time but try to report unsafe callers if you know of any that are telemarketers. That will help strengthen the integrity of any reverse phone lookup service you’re using.
- While most cell phone providers will not offer names and addresses, some sites will give you the general location of the caller for free.
- Use quotation marks around your number for best results.
- Never use a cell phone look up service without first checking for consumer complaints.
Stephanie Faris is a novelist and business writer whose work has appeared on numerous small business blogs, including Zappos, GoDaddy, 99Designs, and the Intuit Small Business Blog. She worked for the State of Tennessee for 19 years, the latter six of which were spent as a supervisor. She has written about business for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2011.