How to Trace a Telephone Number

By Bradley James Bryant

Can you imagine picking up the phone with no knowledge of who's on the other end? It's hard to believe there was ever a time before caller ID, a service which allows everyone to know who's calling and from what number. Now that we've gotten used to the service it's frustrating when we aren't given this information. What do you do when you're only provided with a telephone number?

Step 1

Search the Internet. Enter the number into the search engine of your choice. If the number is on a business or networking site, it will come up. If the search is too long, try narrowing by putting all numbers except the area code in quotes: 000 "000-0000". Also try using the city or the state in the search. You can determine the city or state by doing a search with just the area code (first three digits of the phone number).

Step 2

Look up on an online phone directory. There are numerous phone directories. (See Resources for two of the better sites.) Some are free and some charge a small fee.

Step 3

Do a reverse look up. Most reverse look up sites charge a small fee, but they can be very effective. There are a few reverse sites that allow you to perform a few searches for free. (See Resources for a link to a reverse phone look up powered by AT&T.) Do a test with your own phone number to test validity. However, be aware that this also might be a handy way to collect your phone information for sales calls.

Step 4

Pay a fee based site to look up the information for you. Intelius is a good source. The cost is anywhere from $15 to $25 depending on the level of detail needed. Be sure to understand what information you will receive prior to paying the fee.

Step 5

Check out a centralized database. There is a website located at which has information on virtually every phone number, including international numbers. The website will tell you the number type, the country, the city, state, and original network provider. While it will not tell you the name, it can at least provide you with some basic information about the location of the caller.