Finding the carrier of a cell number will allow you return a phone to its owner if it has been lost. It just takes a few minutes to do by using a reverse phone look up service. You may even be able to get the information for free in some cases.
Go online to 1888usa.com. This site will give you the originator of most cell phone numbers. However, if the number has been transferred to a different carrier it will not reflect this. Simply type in the area code and the first four digits of the phone number and click “Search For Carrier.” This will give you results within a few seconds and the service is completely free as of 2010.
Use PeopleEngine.ws. This is a people search engine. It will give you some free information regarding a phone number such as the city of its origins. If you want more details like the carrier name, the person's address and the name of the owner then you will have to pay a fee. As of 2010, it costs $14.95. You simply type in the 10 digit phone number and click search.
Use the online White Pages. They have a free reverse phone look up service. It is a free service, but it doesn't always produce results. You simply click on the reverse look up tab on the top and then type in your phone number with the area code and click search. If they don't have results they will refer you to a paid service that might.