Reverse phone lookup works best if you start with a landline number for a business or residence. Before the Internet, phone companies published reverse phone directories, or reverse white pages, by specific town or area and made them available to the police, libraries and others.
These books listed businesses and residences, but they didn't include unlisted, fax or cell phone numbers. Paper reverse directories in some areas -- like Hill-Donnelly's Cross+Search Reverse Phone Directory for Las Vegas and Vicinity, 2005 -- can still be bought used at online auction sites like Amazon.com and eBay.com [source: Amazon.com].
The Internet's speed and convenience brought an end to paper directories and made reverse phone number lookup another search engine function. Many options are available online for free reverse phone lookup of landline numbers. Here are two:
- Using Google or another search engine, type the phone number in the search field with the numbers separated by hyphens (for example, 622-555-1777). Hit enter, and you'll see results. The Google Phonebook result shows the phone owner's name, street address and a map link showing the exact location. With a search engine, you may get a result for some, but not all, unlisted numbers. Below the Phonebook result, you'll see any other searches found that include the phone number. These may lead you to more information about a person or a company's Web site.
- Type "reverse phone lookup" in the search field. Hit "Enter," and you'll see listings for sites that provide reverse phone lookup. Go to the site, and type in the number. As with a search engine, you'll usually be given the person's name, street address and a link to a map for driving directions. You may see a "for more information" or "advanced search" function. These usually are paid functions that can provide unlisted and cell phone numbers for the person, as well as other personal information. If you want these services, you can pay for each search individually or pay an annual fee for unlimited number lookups.
Among free sites, here are three of the largest:
- WhitePages.com -- This site receives more than 37 million unique monthly visitors in North America. At the start of 2008, WhitePages.com's database covered more than 180 million Americans, or more than 80 percent of U.S. adults. International numbers also can be searched. Besides name, address and map, this site provides the phone number owner's approximate age. It also provides similar information for neighbors. For a fee, you also can get background information on the phone owner.
- AnyWho.com -- Operated by AT&T, AnyWho.com and its business arm, YellowPages.com, work off a database of information from local phone companies. Unlisted numbers aren't available; international numbers can be searched. Provides name, address and map, plus additional information for a fee. AnyWho.com receives an estimated 3.3 million U.S. unique monthly visitors.
- Addresses.com -- Owned by Intelius, Addresses.com provides name, address and map with additional information available for a fee. An estimated 11 million U.S. monthly unique visitors visit Addresses.com every month.
Next, let's look at how you can do reverse phone lookup for cell phone numbers.