We as a people have been interested in identifying who calls our phones for a very long time. Back in the days of landline phones and dialing, the original way to do so was the *69 command. That allowed a person to pick up the phone after it was finished ringing, dial *69, and call back the person whose call they missed. Next, came “caller ID,” which was a little box with an early digital display, which showed who called me a few seconds after the phone started ringing. Each of these became obsolete once mobile phones became the norm, as this is now built right into the phones in our pockets.
But the info displayed on our cell phones about the person calling us is only as good as the data behind it. You often see only a phone number with an area code. When that is all you get, it is hard to know who is calling. That is where this list of the best reverse phone lookup services comes in. There are many reverse phone lookup sites out there that claim to help, but the following three services are the very best of them.
3 Best Reverse Phone Lookup Services - Who Called Me
Reviews: Best Reverse Phone Lookup Services
1. Intelius - Editor’s Choice: Best Reverse Phone Lookup
- Intelius Connection Engine
- Unlimited searches
- Secure, private searches
- Search process takes a tad longer than we would like
What It Is
Intelius is a popular company that offers a wide range of services for individuals and businesses. Their services range from digital solutions to data analytics, and they also provide background checks, public records, address verification, social media monitoring, and identity monitoring and protection.
Intelius has been providing reverse phone lookups and background checks for nearly 20 years. Founded in 2003, they acquired multiple tangential phone lookup, background check, fingerprinting, and screening services. An acquisition you may have heard of is Classmates.com which Intelius purchased in 2015. They offer many products and services to consumers, business owners, law enforcement agencies, government agencies, schools, colleges, and universities.
How It Works
The Intelius reverse phone number lookup process is as simple as it gets: visit the website and enter the ten-digit phone number you want to look into. Upon clicking the “search” button, you will be asked to confirm that you are ready to learn a lot about the person whose landline or cell phone number you are looking up. Then you will see a progress bar and timer appear.
During the database search process, the system will inform you of the types of databases from which it draws information. The Intelius system will also let you know that the data in the reverse phone lookup report might include points of information such as the name and other basic contact information, as well as their social media profiles and possibly even photos of the search target.
Upon completion, you will be offered a “view report” button, along with a warning not to use this information to exploit anyone or stalk or threaten them. After confirming that you are not a robot, as many websites ask you to do these days, you will then be offered a save screen, where you input your name and email before proceeding.
Then you will be asked to agree that you won't use this service or the information it provides to make any employment, credit, insurance, tenant screening, or any other decisions that require Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) compliance. It should be noted that neither Intelius nor any other of the reverse phone lookup service providers on this list is a consumer reporting company.
At this point, you need only confirm, enter your name, and choose your payment method to access a full report of the number that called you.
Why It Made Our List
Intelius made our list of the best reverse phone lookup services due to the service’s simplicity, ease of use, and due to the raw power of its proprietary data engine. If you want to look up phone numbers and find everything there is to know about who called me, Intelius is your best bet.
2. PeopleFinders - Runner-Up: Most Versatile
- Reverse phone lookups from any device
- Open developer API
- Mobile app
- The browser extension option is intended mostly just for business use
What It Is
Founded in 1998, PeopleFinders is a reverse phone lookup site that helps you find information about a person solely by a landline or cell phone number. If you are able to provide a phone number, this site can provide a person's name, public records, address history, and other contact information.
The PeopleFinders reverse phone lookup service can be used for a variety of purposes, such as finding a person's name and address or getting in touch with someone who owes you money. All it takes is a phone number to find all the important details about any individual, including:
- Contact info (both now and former/previous)
- Reverse phone lookup service
- Physical address
- Current location
- Phone numbers
- Aliases and other names
- Potential relatives
- Friends and associates
- Social media accounts
As is the case with all of the companies that made this list, PeopleFinders is a comprehensive, reliable reverse phone lookup service.
How It Works
Input the target phone number into the PeopleFinders.com website and click the Search Now button to get started. A progress bar then appears, but only for a short time, as the system is quite fast. Then, to unlock the phone report, you choose the option that works best for you among the options listed. Sometimes there is a deal running, such as the $0.95 special that was occurring as we reviewed the service for this article. A regular, single report only was listed at $3.95, which already a great price for the amount of info you get. But the special was under a dollar and included a trial membership as well.
Why It Made Our List
Among the many reasons PeopleFinders made this list (comprehensive searches, ease of use, solid user interface and website navigation to name a few), it is differentiated largely by its versatility. You can search the website easily, but if you prefer another means, there is a mobile app, browser extension, and even a developer API.
The PeopleFinders mobile app is called IdentityWatch and, at its core, offers the same features as the PeopleFinders website. What’s great about having the mobile app installed, however, are the extended features. Because the app operates on your mobile phone, it is, by design, tied to your phone’s features and augments them in a variety of ways.
Perhaps the simplest but most significant feature is the Auto Call Blocking service that the PeopleFinders IdentityWatch app provides. When installed and enabled, Auto Call Blocking cross-references all incoming phone calls with the huge PeopleFinders database of known scam artists and spam attempts.
No one likes a spam call, but we all get them. But with the IdentityWatch app, you get the peace of mind knowing you won’t be bothered as the app automatically removes the vast majority of spam calls from your day.
This feature is more business-oriented, but it’s so powerful that it’s worth mentioning. The PeopleFinders browser extension is called VerifyMyLead and it makes access to clean business contact info easily accessible in a snap. By embedding the capability to verify sales leads directly into a website browser, the process for a business professional to find the contact info of another professional just became vastly easier.
The business case for such an extension is basically that, for a business, there are a variety of ways to identify potential people to whom they wish to elicit a sale. The tough part is finding them, getting their contact information, and then hoping that the contact information they do find is correct. The PeopleFinders VerifyMyLead browser extension makes this simple and straightforward. It includes manual searches, easy exporting of contact info, and an auto-match of the contact info to corresponding LinkedIn profiles.
The PeopleFinders VerifyMyLead extension is aimed at business professionals, but if you find yourself in a position to need to search for professional contact info and/or verify that the info you have is correct, this is the browser extension you need.
For the uninitiated, a “developer API” means that a company makes part of its code available to outside entities in order for those entities to create their own coding to work with it. In essence, PeopleFinders’ PeopleData API allows anyone who can code to create coding that will talk and work with PeopleFinders data in whichever way they can dream up and create for themselves.
Web and software developers have a ton of potential use cases for such an API. The mere fact that it exists, however, is another way that PeopleFinders flexes its versatility in the realm of reverse phone lookups. And it is yet another reason that PeopleFinders made our list of the best reverse phone lookup services.
3. Spokeo - Honorable Mention: Best Design
- Crisp, clean, well-designed website user interface
- Fast process
- Inexpensive and affordable
- As in all free trials, this one must be canceled or it converts to a full membership
What It Is
Spokeo provides reverse phone lookup services for those seeking to know who called me, if a phone number is a spam call, if the number they have for someone is correct, or who a phone number belongs to. Spokeo has been in the reverse phone number lookup business since 2006 and was founded by a group of Stanford University alumni.
Interestingly, one of the differentiators of Spokeo as a company is that a portion of its reverse phone lookup results come from the deep web. The company accomplishes this deep web data access with its own proprietary deep web crawlers. That’s all fancy jargon meaning that they’re wicked smart and know how to create technology that helps you find as much information as possible based on a single phone number alone.
How It Works
Using Spokeo for a reverse phone number lookup is as easy as the others on this list. Simply visit Spokeo.com, choose “Phone” above the search bar, enter the phone number about which you’d like to inquire, and click the “Search Now” button.
A short progress bar appears to show the processing time, but it’s surprisingly short, given how many records it accesses in that short time. In fact, the website indicates the 140 billion records the Spokeo service draws from to provide the best reverse phone lookup results.
Why It Made Our List
Spokeo makes our list of the best reverse phone lookup services due to its low price, ease of use, multitude of options, the depth of its results, professional approach, charitable outreach, and last—but certainly not least—the service’s beautiful website interface.
Choosing Our Top Reverse Phone Lookup Service Providers
This list of the best reverse phone lookup services is based on a variety of data points compiled by a panel of advisors with more than 20 years of combined experience using and researching reverse phone lookup services. We looked at every aspect of the phone lookup service including breadth of search capability, database sources, reliability of results, and comprehensiveness of the process and its outcomes.
How Does a Reverse Phone Lookup Work?
On the surface, the process is simple: type in a landline or cell phone number and any of the reverse phone lookup site options on our list will delve into their vast databases and publicly available records to produce results. The results consist of everything from the identity of the phone number owner to expanded contact information (beyond the phone number you provided) to extended info about the person like their social media accounts.
Behind the scenes, there is a far more technical process at work. Much like how Google has made search results for anything under the sun more easily accessible than ever before, reverse phone lookup sites have taken what used to be a very manual process and made it easy and fast. In order to do so, each of the services listed here has developed a proprietary technical process of its own to make results as deeply comprehensive as possible while producing these results quickly.
A phone lookup service takes the information you input into their system (in this case, a ten-digit phone number) and instantly parses billions of points of data across a variety of databases worldwide. The reverse phone lookup site then produces a tidy report including contact info, location, family, friends, known associates, social media accounts, and sometimes even things like financial or criminal records.
What Can You Find Out From a Reverse Phone Lookup?
A reverse cell phone search is a way to find out who has been contacting you. You can find out information such as the person’s name, their address, and even their social media profiles.
The type and quantity of data that somebody may get from reverse phone lookup sites will depend on the type of information that is available in public records or that a person has made public through their social media profiles.
In a general sense, the best reverse phone lookup providers (which, coincidentally, are those on this list) are likely to provide you with a variety of types of information for a landline or reverse cell phone lookup, including contact info, location data, personal details, friends, family, and contacts, and social media accounts. Often, things like financial data and even potential criminal records are also available.
Contact information includes everything from the name of the phone number owner to any alternate or previous names or aliases, to additional or associated phone numbers, and email addresses.
Location data consists of the phone number owner’s physical address, previous addresses associated with the person, residents who may rent from the owner, and even neighbors.
Reverse phone number lookup sites can also reveal personal info about the owner of the landline or cell phone number you search. This info may include anything from marital status to education level. It may even include things like the person’s hobbies or their known interests.
Friends, family, and associates
Simply by doing a reverse cell phone lookup on any of the phone number lookup sites on this list is also likely to tell you things like the phone number owner’s household demographics, as well as their family members and known associates. You may also even find things like birth records and/or marriage records as well.
Social media accounts
Depending upon what is publicly available, reverse phone lookups may also reveal information about the phone number owner’s usernames, social media accounts, and potentially even their music and gaming usernames, accounts, and tags. You may even be able to find records related to the phone number owner’s dating sites.
Can I Look Up My Own Phone Number?
The internet has made it easier for people to find out personal information about others. One way to do this is by looking up a phone number, as outlined in this article. That said, there are many reasons why someone else might want to find your phone number. They may be a potential business associate, a prospective client, a romantic prospect, or just someone who's curious.
That’s why it may make sense for you to do a phone number search on your own phone number using one of our recommended phone lookup service sites.
When you search for your own phone number online, you can see how exposed your information is and if there are any risks associated with it being public knowledge. Conducting a reverse phone number search on yourself is a great way to clearly see all the information that is available about you and to make sure that you are comfortable with it or take steps to improve on what's already out there.
Some handy tips to ascertain the potential exposure of your publicly available data include:
Delete your accounts on any websites that you no longer use. If you're not using a social media platform, it may be time to delete your account. If you have an online shopping profile and are not using it as part of your everyday life, for example, then there is no need for that to be out there, as nothing you don’t want to be public knowledge should be available without you being aware of it. Because if that information is out there, a company or individual who is looking for you can run a quick search to find your contact information and reach out to you—whether you want them to or not!
Check to see if your privacy settings are set in such a way as to over-share information you may not want to be out there for the masses to find. If you're not sure how much personal information is out there about you, check the privacy settings of each social media platform that is connected. You may have set these up when first joining, but even if you have since changed them, it's a good idea to check again.
Some privacy settings can even be adjusted. That means you can change how much is revealed publicly versus how much remains embedded just on the sites and services you wish to use. Look for options to limit what others can see both publicly and even among other users on the same website or especially on social media sites. There are sometimes options to limit specific types of information, specific posts, and certain types of media in particular (like video or photos), and you may not even know it. More options exist than you may think!
We recommend doing a phone number search on yourself using one of the reverse phone search sites listed here so you can see what is being shared online—often without your knowledge. This works both ways as well. For example, if you find a rumor or story that you want to share, check the source of the information first.
Go With Your Gut
Listen to your intuition with regard to sharing personal information online. Watch out for signs that posting personal information could put you in danger, such as feeling uncomfortable when looking over personal photos and videos on social media or not wanting to share certain aspects of your life. Look at other accounts and search for their information to see if you can find it easily. Don’t forget to include those accounts of people you may not even be particularly fond of. If you can find information about them that is intriguing, that may be a good indicator of the types of data to limit for yourself so others cannot find it.
At the end of the day, your own information and privacy is up to you. The world moves fast and technology advances at a mind-blowing pace these days. That’s why it is important to ensure your information only exists in the ways in which you want it to be known.
What Do Free Reverse Phone Lookup Sites Provide?
One of the first things people notice about quality reverse phone lookup providers is that they pretty much all have a cost involved. Thankfully, the price is low. For instance, two on this list are currently available for less than a dollar.
Some websites claim to be free, however, so it’s important to understand what you get with such a “free” service. Those claiming to be free reverse phone lookup websites come in a few formats:
- Top Level
- Wiki Style
A Top Level free reverse phone lookup website is one that provides next to no information. For example, this is the type of site that would tell you the city and state of the phone number and not much else.
Listings are pretty much what they sound like: long lists of phone numbers down very long website pages. The usefulness of finding a phone number you’re searching for on such a list is of extremely limited value and it is suspected that these sites only exist to gain some advertising revenue.
Similar to Wikipedia, a Wiki Style free reverse phone lookup website is one whose references to caller identity or ownership are simply those that are entered by visitors to the site. The people who visit the site are the ones who add content to it, so you can contribute to them yourself. For example, you might receive a spam call from a phone number you don’t know and then visit a Wiki Style free reverse phone lookup website to tell others if it’s a spam call or not.
Glossary of Reverse Phone Search Terminology
Auto-Dialer - An auto-dialer refers to pre-programmed hardware devices or proprietary software used to dial phone numbers quickly and easily from a database of existing numbers.
Auto-dialers are largely used for telemarketing and outbound sales. A company wishing to sell products or services via phone calls may employ an auto-dialer to increase the efficiency and productivity of its telesales staff by increasing the number of prospects the team reaches. An ad or voice recorded message may play from the entity that is calling, or a phone solicitor may attempt to sell products or services to the call recipient or answer questions from them.
For more information, see the Recorded Message and Telemarketing entries in this glossary.
Call Center - A call center is a location where people work to place, receive, and handle telephone calls. The notion of organizing a group of company employees to make or answer calls dates as far back as the 1960s.
Call centers are one of the most important parts of a company's customer service department, as they are in charge of maintaining all incoming customer inquiries or, in the case of outbound sales, they are in charge of reaching sales goals that make up a percentage of a company’s total sales numbers.
The goal of a call center is either to provide quality customer service and ensure that customers stay satisfied with their experience at the company or to engage existing or potential customers for the purpose of initiating sales on behalf of the company.
Some of the responsibilities that may be handled by a call center include taking inbound calls, responding to emails, resolving product issues over the phone, or closing sales of products and services.
Direct Marketing - Direct marketing is a form of marketing in which the marketer delivers a message to an individual or company without going through an intermediary.
Direct marketing can be done in a number of ways, such as email, social media, online ads, and print ads. Direct marketers send their messages through the most appropriate channel to reach their target audience. Direct marketing typically involves using one or more of the following techniques:
- Personalized one-to-one communication (such as telemarketing or robocalling, which are both potential reasons to use the best reverse phone lookup services on this list)
- Promotional offers, such as discounts and rebates
- Discounts and rebates on future purchases
- Free samples, gifts, or other freebies
Direct marketing can also refer to marketing tactics like direct mail (often referred to colloquially as “junk mail”) to solicit interest or promote purchases.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) - The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a federal law in the United States that protects your right to accurate, timely and complete credit information. The FCRA was created to give consumers more power over what companies can legally do with the information found on background checks and credit reports.
Passed in 1970, the Fair Credit Reporting Act was an attempt to guarantee a fair, accurate, and private process for when people apply for credit for a variety of reasons. It helps provide transparency about entities that hold personal information about you. The law allows consumers to see how the information that creditors collect about them is used, and it spells out how background check services can be legally used.
Recorded Message - A recorded message is a pre-recorded audio message that can be used as an advertising technique. These messages are most often used to fill the otherwise empty air time while a customer is on hold during a call, but some businesses also use them for outbound telemarketing as well.
An example of a hold message would be calling in to order a pizza and hearing a recorded message outlining the specials of the day while you wait to speak with a live person to place your order.
Recorded messages are also often used in robocalling and telemarketing to communicate a message or provide instruction to call recipients. They are an example of the use of technology in marketing, with the goal of persuading people to purchase goods or services.
This term may also be referred to by these phrases: robocalling, voice broadcasting,
Reverse Phone Lookup - Reverse phone lookup is a service that allows you to find out who called me by entering the phone number of the caller. Reverse phone lookup sites are useful in many different situations, such as:
- You are receiving a call from an unknown number and want to know who it is
- You have been receiving a lot of calls from telemarketers or other people you don't want to talk to and would like to know which numbers they are using
- You have lost your mobile phone and would like to see if someone has called it looking for you.
- You are romantically interested in a person and would like to know more about their background
- You want to search your own phone number and see what personal information is easily accessible and available to others
This term may also be referred to by these phrases: Reverse Telephone Directory, Gray Pages, or Criss-Cross Directory.
Telemarketing - Telemarketing can be defined as the process of calling potential customers to communicate a company's product or service. In general, it involves marketing products or services over the phone, especially when it's done in large quantities by paid sales or marketing professionals. It is a customer contact strategy used by many businesses, including financial services, insurance, retail, and telecommunications providers.
The goal of telemarketing is to generate revenue and/or increase return on investment by delivering marketing messages to current or prospective customers through live agents making calls or pre-recorded messages delivered via automated dialers (also known as "robocalls") and texts.
Telemarketing is a form of direct marketing, which is a marketing method that uses one-to-one contact with potential customers to promote products or services. It can be used to both generate new business and maintain relationships with existing customers. Telemarketing includes recorded messages, live agents, and interactive voice response (IVR) systems.
Telesalesperson - A telesalesperson is an individual who conducts outbound sales by telephone, usually for the purpose of gathering leads or soliciting new business. They are also known as telephone sales representatives, call center agents, or telemarketers.
Telesalespeople are responsible for making cold calls to potential customers in order to persuade them to buy a product or service. They have to have strong communication skills and be able to convince people that what they are selling is worth investing in.
Telesalespeople are often employed in a large company to call clients in order to get them to buy goods and services from the company. Telesalespeople can also be employed by companies to sell their products and services, or they can work independently as freelance consultants.
Telesalespeople are often paid on commission, meaning that they get paid based on the number of sales they make. This makes them highly motivated to not only reach a prospect via phone, but to keep them talking, and close a sale all in a single call.
There are a variety of viable reasons to want to know who is behind a particular phone number. Whether it’s to find out who called me, where calls are coming from, why calls keep coming, or to find out more about someone who uses or used to own a particular phone number. Whatever the reason, the reverse phone lookup services on this list are your best bet for quality information and features at a great price.