How To Trace a Phone Number
Do you wince every time the phone rings, because it’s always some telemarketer calling to bug you? Do you get frequent “mystery calls” from unknown numbers, and want to know who is calling you before you pick up the phone? There are a number of ways to figure out who is calling you. Some of those ways are illegal, and I’m not going to talk about them here, but other ways are completely legitimate. In this article, I will show you some of the ways you can find out who is calling your number.
Telemarketing started to fade out a bit during the early 21st century, but it seems to have made something of a comeback in the last few years. I have been getting more calls than ever from telemarketers offering me health insurance, accident claims assistance, lower cellphone bills and all sorts of stuff I don’t need. I tend to block all unknown numbers but some legitimate companies use restricted numbers, which can make life difficult. I don’t want to miss legitimate calls, but I also don’t want to waste time talking to people I have no interest in talking with.
Here are some ways to trace a phone number.
Call them back
If the number calling you hasn’t been restricted or blocked, one simple way to find out who owns it is to call it and see who picks up. If you don’t want them to see you’ve called, you can use a payphone (if you can find one!) or a number spoofing program. Returning the call should quickly reveal who is calling. Even companies that use autodialers will usually route return calls to an answering machine, and legitimate non-telemarketing companies will usually have a receptionist or agent available to pick up the call.
Use search to trace a phone number
We Google everything else, why not Google a phone number? As long as it isn’t restricted, just put the full number into a search engine and see where it goes. Make sure to include the area code, since there are dozens of versions of every 7-digit number. Legitimate companies will generally pop right up from a Google search on the number, while other times the number will be flagged as a scammer, marketer or nuisance caller.
This method doesn’t always work and it won’t work as well on cell numbers or restricted numbers. However, since it takes only a few seconds, it is well worth trying.
Use social media to trace a phone number
Putting the number into Facebook is a very effective way of finding out who owns a personal number. With cellphone authentication popular across most networks, many users don’t fully understand the various privacy settings needed to keep that number secret. That means this way of searching will work on cellphones as well as landlines.
A quick search on Facebook or Twitter could quickly reveal who owns the number in question or point to other posts complaining about nuisance calls from it.
Use reverse phone search
Even though 75 percent of Americans are on the Donotcall.gov registry, that doesn’t stop annoying calls. Another way to identify who owns a number if the above methods don’t work is to use a reverse phone lookup. There are a number of websites that offer a free lookup to help identify who owns a number.
What about if the number has no caller ID, is restricted or comes up as unknown? All of the methods mentioned above require the number to be presented to work. As many marketers hide their number, what do you do then?
Ask your network
If you are being bombarded with telemarketing calls or harassed you can ask your network provider to identify the number and take action against it. This will work on both landlines and cellphones. Some companies will ask you to raise a harassment complaint and will not divulge the number to you but take action internally. They may also offer to block that call at the network level to stop it reaching you.
Much depends on where you live, what the laws are in your region and the provider. Ask your phone company to find out what they can do for you.
Use an unmasking service
If the calls are becoming a real nuisance, you could pay for a premium service that can act as an intermediary. Some services will unmask the number and present it instead of ‘No Caller ID’, some will not. Some services will then offer to blacklist or completely block numbers too.
One service that is well reviewed is Trapcall. I have never used them but I know someone who has. The service costs $3.95 a month and can help you identify callers with or without numbers, record calls to help complaints and blacklist numbers so they cannot call you again. There are likely other such services out there that offer much the same kind of thing.
If the nuisance caller does present their number, both Apple and Android have a blocking capability built in. You can also use that to block telemarketers and it doesn’t cost a dime!