There are a few different ways to figure out who a particular phone number is registered to. For a traditional listed landline number, you can look in an online reverse phone lookup directory that will match a phone number to its owner and often an address. These phone number lookup directories include some cellphone numbers, too. Another option is to scour search engines and social media for the number. Keep in mind that caller ID information can be forged.
Who's This Number Registered To?
Years ago, most people had landline phones and had their numbers automatically published in the local phone book. Reverse directories, that had listings organized by phone number or address rather than name, were also available by special order and at public libraries.
Now, many people have cellphones or voice over internet protocol phones that are unlisted, and phone companies usually won't share the names of their customers without permission.
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Still, it's worth searching the digital versions of reverse phone directories for a number you're interested in finding. Some popular phone number search tools include Whitepages, Zabasearch and Pipl. If you don't find the number you want through a particular tool, you can try another in case it has a different set of numbers in its database.
Social Media Search
You can also search for a phone number on social media sites and services. Some social sites allow you to search for a person by phone number, and you may also be able to find a phone number if a person or business has included it in a post.
Type the phone number into the search box on a social networking site or app such as Facebook or Twitter. See what people or posts come up, if any, and if they mention who the phone number belongs to.
Remember that information that you find on social sites might be outdated or misleading, so it may not reflect who currently owns the number.
Using a Search Engine
Another option is to type the phone number into a general-purpose search engine such as Google or Bing. This will enable you to see if anyone has published information about who owns the number or if it appears on a business page.
You may want to try typing the number in several different formats, including with the area code in parenthesis and with it separated from the rest of the number by hyphens.
As on social networking sites, remember that information you find about the phone number might be inaccurate, misleading or simply outdated.
Handling Harassment and Scams
If you've received unwanted phone calls from a particular number, you can ask your phone carrier to block that number or configure your phone to block calls from the number. If someone is calling or texting you to sell you something or appears to be trying to scam you, you can report the situation to the Federal Trade Commission. Don't interact with the person or machine calling you, since that can lead to getting more phone calls rather than fewer.
If you think a crime is being committed — such as if you're receiving harassing or threatening phone calls — consider contacting your local police.
Keep in mind that caller ID information can be forged, so the number that appears on your phone screen may not be the actual number someone is calling from.
Be wary of returning calls from unknown numbers, since they may be part of a scam resulting in having to pay high long-distance charges if you return the call.