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Reverse Phone Lookup

Discover how reverse phone lookup can be a useful tool.

Using a reverse phone lookup can help you identify who owns an unknown number. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Using a reverse phone lookup can help you identify who owns an unknown number.

For people who have a telephone number, but don't know the name or address of the person to which it belongs, a reverse phone lookup can be an incredibly useful tool. A reverse phone lookup, also known as a reverse phone directory or greypages, is a listing of phone numbers with corresponding names and addresses. Phone companies have published printed versions of reverse phone lookups in various locations for many years, and now there are many online databases that can perform the same function.

When to Use a Reverse Phone Lookup

There are several scenarios in which a reverse phone number lookup can be of use. At some point, everyone has scribbled down a phone number, only to forget to whom it belonged. In a case like that, making a blind phone call to discover the identity of the person can be embarrassing. Using a reverse phone lookup allows people to simply and conveniently find the name without having to explain that they've forgotten why they wrote down the number, or to whom it belonged.

People who receive prank phone calls, phone threats or anonymous calls also can use a reverse phone lookup. They simply need to obtain the number, usually through caller ID, and then look it up to discover the identity of the person who called them. Reverse phone lookups also can be useful when the phone number of a business or service provider is known, but the address is not. Many reverse phone lookups will provide the address associated with the phone number. Reverse phone lookups also can be useful for tracking calls to any unknown numbers that may appear on a telephone statement.

Where to Find Reverse Phone Lookups

Several free reverse phone lookups are available online. For example, Google allows users to simply type the phone number with area code, separated by hyphens (i.e., 000-000-0000), into the search engine on the main page. The results show any names associated with the phone number, the address where the phone number is registered, and a link to a map showing the address. Other sites to try for free reverse phone lookups include AnyWho, a site that is partnered with the telephone company AT&T; WhitePages.com; and Switchboard.com.

There are drawbacks to free reverse phone lookups, however. Most of them cannot provide information for cell phone numbers, unlisted telephone numbers or fax numbers. Some sites will provide the name and address associated with the phone number, and then offer other information, including background checks, schools and other information available on public records, for an additional charge. Some sites claim to be able to find cell phone numbers, but since there isn't a centralized directory of cell phone numbers, the information may not be available. When the information is available, there is generally a fee to access it.

Reverse Phone Lookup Privacy Concerns

For those who wish for their phone numbers to remain unlisted, Google offers an option via a link on the phone number page that reads "Request to have your name removed from this list." The link leads to a request form that, when completed, will remove the number from Google's phone number database. It's important to note that if the phone number is removed, even a search by name will not reveal it. Similar removal options are available on AnyWho and Whitepages.com.

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