Don’t Recognize a Caller? How to Reverse Check a Phone Number
Unrecognized phone numbers can be a common problem for some people. Sometimes, especially around elections, you’ll receive a lot of calls from phone numbers you haven’t saved in your contacts. It can get pretty annoying and potentially problematic. After all, how do you know whether or not an unknown number is an important call, or a telemarketer … or worse?
Some people may tell you to never answer calls from unrecognized numbers, but surely there’s a better way of doing things. Reverse phone lookups have been a handy tool ever since caller ID was introduced. A phone lookup service will let you check unknown numbers to get an idea of who is trying to get in contact with you.
So how do you use phone number lookup websites? Which ones are free and safe online to use?
Free & Paid Phone Number Lookup
Just as you’re cautious with an unknown number, you should also watch out for some reverse phone lookup services. According to a Business Insider article, some phone lookup sites that advertise themselves as “free” will try to eventually charge you for a service or collect your data to sell to advertisers. They say that real phone number lookup sites take only a couple of minutes to use and don’t require you to give your email or other personal information.
So what are some of the better, trusted phone lookup sites you can use?
This site (directory.youmail.com) allows you to search any phone number and see what other people are saying about that number. If you’re concerned about an unknown number being a scam call, for example, you can see if other YouMail users have answered calls from the number and reported anything about it. YouMail also offers voice mail services separately through their app (see youmail.com).
A handy fast lookup tool that allows you to search names, emails, phones, and addresses. It charges small fees to access some information. You might use this service if you get repeat calls from an unknown number.
This simple lookup tool lets you search phone numbers in the US and Canada to see the name and email attached. It will also give you a vague idea of what the phone’s registered physical address is. It doesn’t seem to be as active as YouMail, but you can see how many times the number has been searched, which could be a signal that the number is potential spam.
Another extremely simple website that will quickly let you see the name of the person that owns a phone number, if it’s a registered number. It will also let you see what carrier currently services it. We tried it with our known spam caller and all we learned was the owner, Independence BL, but not much more.
Overall, we were most impressed with YouMail, because of its no-cost user-sourced public-facing reviews.
Did you know you can also do internet searches in OneLaunch? If you receive a call from an unknown number, type that number in the OneLaunch search bar. Try it with dashes and without. OneLaunch’s search engine will return results that are associated with that string of numbers. If it’s associated with a legitimate business, a search like this will validate that number, so you know it’s safe.
Use Free Phone Number Lookup Sites With Caution
Remember to use reverse lookup sites responsibly and cautiously, as there’s a surprising amount of information and misinformation online.
For example, reverse phone lookup sites that take a long time to collect data are not recommended. These sites often employ the sunk cost fallacy to make you believe you’re investing time searching for information. After that, they’ll hit you with a paywall with the hope that you’ve invested so much time that you’ll just pay them the money to see the results.
Did you know there are actually some area codes that you should almost never answer? The FTC says to watch out for “one ring scams” where a number calls you but the phone only rings once before being disconnected. It may look like a missed call but if you try to call the number back, you’ll be hit with international per-minute phone rates while on the line. They say to watch out for Caribbean area codes such as 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876.
If you’re contacted by an unknown number and find evidence that it may be a scam during your research, remember that you can report fraud to the FTC online. You may have to file a report about the unwanted calls, but you’ll potentially protect yourself and other people from losing money and time from scams. It’s an extra step that could help a lot of people in the long run.