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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Reverse Phone Lookups

Consumer use of what's known as a "reverse lookup" is a relatively new concept and as such we occasionally receive visitors who have questions. This page is designed to answer some of the most frequently asked questions but should you have a question that is not answered here please feel free to contact us.

What is a reverse phone lookup?

A "reverse" phone lookup, is much like a traditional phone lookup (ie directory assistance or a phone book search) only instead of searching with a name to find a phone number, you search with a phone number. The intent is to trace a telephone back to it's owner, location and identify other information about the number. A reverse phone lookup is often used when caller id is ineffective or additional information is desired about a caller.

Is it legal?

In the United States, yes. Currently, it is legal to perform and access information via a reverse phone lookup. There is also no legal distinction for the type of phone. Residential, business, facsimile and cellular phones are all legally allowable to be searched, though US privacy advocates have raised concerns about the ability to search some numbers (particularly cellular).

Outside of the United States, it depends. Each country has their own laws, and in some countries privacy concerns have resulted in them passing laws against phone number to name services. For example, the United Kingdom no longer permits such services to be used outside of law enforcement and emergency services, forcing UK directories like 192.com to remove the reverse service they once offered. Though it is worth noting, a phone number may be used to identify the town of origin of a caller in the UK.

While such service may not be available in the United Kingdom, there are several other countries which do allow phone number lookups. For a list of some of those countries and where you can lookup numbers see our international directory page here.

Why would someone perform a reverse phone lookup?

Most commonly lookups are used to identify an unknown caller. Caller ID is a wonderful innovation but sometimes a phone's caller ID can not adequately identify who owns a number and in this case a reverse phone lookup can be very effective. A phone lookup can also be an effective way to lookup more information about a caller when their name is already known. Information you can lookup can include the address, the network the phone belongs to (to help determine if it is an in or out of network call), or maybe if other people have filed complaints about the caller. Regardless of the reason, a reverse lookup may be able to help you find the information you are looking for.

What numbers can be reversed?

Virtually all NANP (North American Numbering Plan) phone numbers can be reversed. NANP numbers contain a three digit area code and a seven digit phone number. Landline residential numbers, business phone numbers, fax numbers, wireless numbers, even prepaid phones all have the "potential" to be reversed. The reason we say "potential" is some of these numbers are typically more difficult to find than others. We have blogged about this previously here, but in short, business phones can often be more difficult to find than residential, and cellular phones are typically the most difficult to find information on. There are other factors such as the age of the telephone line and how frequently the phone number is given out.

What information is available?

Different reverse lookup service will offer different types or amount of information. On this site, assuming we find information, we will have a name, address, the name of the carrier and the type of phone (wireless or landline). We also aggregate and link to online call complaints which have been filled against the phone number.

How much does a lookup cost?

On this site, nothing. We are one of the few sites to offer 100% of our information free of charge. As for other "pay" sites, many of them charge between $4.95 and $14.95 per lookup. To be fair, those sites may offer information that we do not, as they source their information differently. That said there is no reason why you can not search this site first and if you can't find the information you are looking for try others.

More about this directory?

This directory was built to be a free resource for consumers to search for information about the people or businesses calling them. Since launching in November 2010 we have helped hundreds of thousands of searchers save millions of dollars by providing them information on the number they searched for free.