How Reverse Phone Lookup Works

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These three popular reverse lookup sites will provide basic contact info for free:

  • WhitePages.com: This site receives more than 30 million unique monthly visitors in North America. At the start of 2008, WhitePages.com‘s database covered more than 180 million Americans, or more than 80 percent of U.S. adults. International numbers also can be searched. Besides name, address and map, the site provides the phone number owner’s approximate age. It also provides similar information for neighbors. For a fee, you also can get background information on the phone owner.
  • AnyWho.com: Operated by Intellius, AnyWho.com works off a database of information from local phone companies. Unlisted numbers aren’t available, but international numbers are. Searches provide names, addresses and maps, plus additional information for a fee. Accessing free info will also require an account sign-up with an email address. AnyWho.com receives an estimated 3.3 million U.S. unique monthly visitors.
  • Spokeo.com: Spokeo.com provides much of the same info as the previous two sites for free. For a small fee, users can get additional features like full names, address history, and public records, and monthly subscription plans also available.
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If you’re being inundated with many spam calls or rings from automated “robocallers,” then a reverse lookup service probably won’t help you to find the origin of that number. That’s because spam callers often use a basic hacking technique called “spoofing,” which replaces the original ID with a random residential number that belongs to someone else.

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Spammers can also choose to spoof a phone number in your area code, making it appear local, while the actual source could be anywhere in the world. While reverse lookup won’t give much relief from these types of calls, many phone providers now offer methods to automatically block communication from suspected spammers.

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The largest provider for reverse cellphone number lookup is Intelius Inc. Intelius calls its service “Cellphone Caller ID” and provides available information for each number that may include name and address, as well as unlisted, VoIP (voice over internet protocol) and business numbers for the phone user.

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Originally Published: Feb 7, 2008

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