There are a number of websites where you can put in a phone number and get a name, address and other information associated with it. You may also be able to use a traditional reverse phone lookup directory in print or on microfiche. Another option is to search for the phone number in traditional search engines and on social media to see if any person or business is associated with the number.
Find Name By Phone Number
At one time, most landline phone numbers were listed in phone books, and you could easily go from the name of a person or business to a phone number simply by flipping through a book. Books called reverse phone directories allowed you to look up phone numbers and find who owned them, provided the numbers were listed, and some also provided names by looking up an address.
With the rise of cellphones, fewer people and businesses have listed phone numbers, but you can still use online reverse phone directories to look up a phone number and see if you can find the owner. Some popular tools for this are Whitepages.com, Zabasearch and Pipl. Visit the phone directory site of your choice and type in the phone number you're interested in to see what information is available about the owner of the number.
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Different sites each have their own databases, so checking multiple sites if you don't find the information you're looking for right away can be worth it.
You may also be able to find physical reverse phone lookup directories at public and college libraries.
Checking Internet Search Engines
If you can't find the information you want using a phone number lookup tool, try typing the number into a traditional search engine such as Google or Bing. You might find the number listed on a personal or business website or in some other online directory.
Consider trying variations on writing the phone number, such as putting the area code in parentheses and separating it from the rest of the number with hyphens. Check multiple search engines to see if one has information that others don't.
Checking Social Media Sites
You can also search social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for particular phone numbers. You may be able to find an account associated with the number or posts that include the number advertising a business or highlighting who uses the number.
Review sites, such as Yelp and Foursquare, also often have information about phone numbers of businesses.
A Few Warnings
Keep in mind that information you find on third-party websites can be outdated or wrong. Don't make critical decisions about who has called you from a particular number based on what you find online.
Caller ID information can also be faked, so if you see a number appear on your phone, it doesn't necessarily mean that someone actually called you from that number. Scammers and unscrupulous telemarketers may fake caller ID information to disguise where they're actually calling from. If you receive a call from a number belonging to a business or a government agency, call the number back rather than giving information or payments to the caller based solely on the number.
If you think you're being harassed by a caller, or if someone is offering you illegal services or trying to scam you, consider contacting your local police department. If you sense a scam, you can also report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Police agencies can use their investigative powers and court orders to find information about who owns a particular number even if you can't easily do so yourself.