Using Online White Pages Searches to Perform Reverse Phone Number Lookups
by Christopher Boyle
NEW YORK – We’ve all done it- we’ve dug into our pockets and fished out our cell phones only to realize upon swiping open the screen that we’ve missed a phone call or two; despite being certain that we had the phone on vibrate, the everyday distractions that life offers may have drawn our attention away from that vital moment when someone – or something – was trying to get in touch with us. But there are also the times that we DO notice our phones ringing and sometimes, the caller behind that ring may be originating from a number we don’t recognize. Do you answer it or let it go to voicemail? What if they don’t leave a voicemail? How do you figure out who just called, short of calling this unknown number back?
Of course, there’s a great probability that the person calling could be a scam artist out to separate you from your hear- earned money, but there’s an equal chance that it was simply a friend or legit business without any ulterior motives. Either way, if you’re just itching to know who this mystery caller was and what it is that they wanted, there are several fast and relatively easy ways to identify them with little muss or fuss.
First of all, you can go to Google and make use of a White Pages search to investigate any unknown phone number; simply type in the number and you should get instant results indicating the origin of the caller who just attempted to contact you. If the caller was from a real business or company, that number should correspond with their official website and bring it up within the first few results. If that’s the case, it’s safe to say that they’re not a scammer out to fleece you, so from there the choice is yours as to if you want to call them back.
Results for landline telephone numbers also typically come up in Internet White Page searches, as most landline users are listed in publicly-accessible phone book listings unless they purposely go out of their way to acquire an unlisted number. So, if the person who just called you is a private citizen using a landline, it’s likely that they will come back in search results as well. Again, it’s just a matter of figuring out if you know who they are and if you want to call them back at that point.
HOWEVER, if the phone number is that of a person, group, or organization that has been recognized for fraudulent and/or scam-based activity, you’re probably going to see a very different series of results when you plug their number into any White Page search. WhoCalled.us, 800notes.com, and WhoCallsMe.com are among the many websites that track and log the phone numbers of known fraudsters who specialize in running phone scams upon unsuspecting members of the public; if any of those sites come up – or similar ones – it’s best to count yourself lucky that you didn’t answer the phone and just move on.
Also, if you’ve discovered that your missed caller is indeed a scammer, many of the aforementioned reporting websites on such activity allow users to leave comments on their experiences with the specific phone numbers they have archived on their site. So, if you look up a certain number on one of these sites that you suspect is NOT on the up-and-up, and you notice that the comments on said number all reflect a similar trend in terms of potential scams that have been perpetrated by the caller, it’s safe to say that number is one to avoid. And if you’ve had the misfortune to have had spoken with one of these criminals yourself, feel free to add your story to the others and help people in your shoes avoid trouble down the line.
Facebook is another way to reverse lookup phone numbers for one simple reason- while traditional landline phone numbers are typically available to the public, cell phone numbers are usually considered private and are only accessible by others if the owners of said number voluntarily put them out there for others to see. Often, Facebook will request users to include their phone numbers with profile information to aid with people searches, and not all Facebook users are savvy enough to make their profiles completely private to avoid being in this list. So, if you have a missed call from a number and Google or a White Page search isn’t turning up anything, a quick cut-and-paste of the number into Facebook may turn up some results instead.
However, more often than not, you’ll get the information you’re looking for on the identity of a missed caller just by a White Pages search, and more often than not, you’ll get more than just their name in search results. You could also score their address – or, short of that, at least their basic geographical location – as well as learning the distinction between the caller’s status as a cell or landline user, and if they’re a company or an individual. From there, you should have enough info to decide on whether or not to call this unknown entity back; if not, perhaps it’s best to leave well enough alone, move on with life, and worry about more important things.