Phone numbers are always connected to the number owner making it a surefire way to identify someone. Most calls and text messages people receive are from numbers saved on the phone's contact list. However, many will still get several calls and messages from phone numbers that are not on the contact list. While some of these calls are genuine, many are scams, robocalls, and telemarketers.
It is possible to identify the persons behind the numbers and get answers to questions like “who called me?”
Several websites offer free reverse phone lookup services or for a fee. Websites that provide the service for a fee will often give more information than free websites. Some free websites also have paid versions with more details.
How Can I Find Out Who Called Me Without Paying?
If you receive a call from an unfamiliar number, you may be curious about who the caller is and why they are calling you. There are a few ways to find out information about the caller. There are online tools that interested persons can use to do a free reverse phone lookup to find details about an unknown number, including:
Google Search Engine
The most popular search engine on the Internet has access to trillions of web pages. It is possible to use the search engine for a free reverse phone lookup. If the number has been used on a public business webpage, personal page, blog, or social platform, then Google will find it. To search for the details of a phone number on Google, do the following:
- Retrieve the phone number from the phone call log.
- Type the phone number directly into the Google search box on “www.google.com,” press the enter button, or click “Google Search.” Remember to include the area code.
- Go through the results presented.
- If the search does not produce any relevant results, refine the search by putting the phone number in quotation marks.
If you suspect the number is a scam, add “scam” to the query, and the results should show if the phone number has ever been associated with a scam.
Some social media applications like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram provide options for users to display their details, including phone numbers. It is possible to use these platforms to do a free reverse phone lookup.
Generally, this method requires that the searcher has an account already. Searchers can find details about the phone number, provided the owner listed it as public. The steps to find the details of a phone number on social media are:
- Log into the social media application.
- Retrieve the phone number from the phone call log.
- Enter the number in the search box.
- If the phone number is associated with an account and listed as public, the search engine on the social media app will retrieve their details.
There are a few free mobile apps that help with identifying the registered name of a phone number. These apps automatically do a suspicious phone number lookup. And if the caller is an unknown person, the apps alert users.
Phone Number Lookup Websites
Several websites make it possible to do a suspicious phone number lookup for free. Such websites will provide basic information like the owner’s name and location. Enter the phone number in the website's search box, and the site should retrieve the owner’s details if available.
Find Out Who Texted Me With Reverse Phone Lookup Services
The above methods can help users answer the question of “who called me?” But what about text messages from an unknown number? The following steps can help users find out who sent a text message from a given number:
Get a Reliable Tool
Search for a reliable phone number lookup tool by searching online or through referrals from friends and families. Some tools require users to provide personal details before using them. So, look for reverse phone lookup services that let users perform a search with no strings attached.
Provide the Phone Number
Retrieve the phone number from the text messaging application. Then, type the phone number in the search box of the tool. The number should include the area code and the country code if applicable. Press “Enter” to initiate the search.
Most tools will provide multiple search results. So, sorting through several result pages may be necessary to get the desired result. Sometimes, this involves refining the search parameters by adding quotation marks or removing hyphens and running the reverse phone lookup again. The tool should provide refined results and make retrieving the phone owner’s name and location easier.
Getting Missed Calls and Texts from Anonymous Numbers
Calls and text messages from anonymous numbers indicate that the callers have concealed their caller ID from displaying a phone call. The Federal Communications Commission advises against answering such calls. In their tips for consumers, the agency advised the following:
- Do not press any button to stop receiving calls or respond to any question. Just hang up.
- If the caller claims to be from a legitimate organization, hang up and call the organization back with a valid phone number found on the official website.
- If the caller asks for payment with gift cards, then it is likely a scam.
How to Report Suspicious Numbers
Some phone numbers can be easily suspected to be scams by the content of the text messages they send, their ring time, or the phone conversation. Messages that attempt to scare a person into taking immediate action are often scams.
Such messages may contain words like “Verify your bank account,” “You won the lottery and need to redeem it now,” “Your relative is in jail and needs to be bailed fast,” or “You are in trouble with the IRS.”
Also, watch out for one-ring phone scams where a scammer calls and hangs up before the call recipient picks up. The goal is to get the recipient to call back and use scare tactics to con the person out of money.
So, report suspicious numbers to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the agency that is responsible for collecting scam reports in the US. Concerned persons can report the suspicious number to the agency online or by calling (877) 382-4357. They share scam reports with over 3,000 law enforcers who will investigate the suspicious number. Another option is to report suspicious numbers to the FCC using their Phone Complaint Form. When reporting, select “Unwanted Calls/Messages” as the phone issue and “All Other Unwanted Calls” as a sub-issue.
Suspicious Phone Numbers and Area Codes
Access stimulation (traffic pumping) and one-ring scams are phone scams that are often associated with specific area codes. It may be best practice to reject calls from an unknown number from those area codes. The two area codes notorious for traffic pumping are:
- 218: Northern Minnesota
- 712: Western Iowa
On the other hand, one-ring scams are associated with international country codes that look similar to area codes. The FCC advises that consumers be suspicious of calls from unknown number with the following codes:
- 767: Commonwealth of Dominica
- 473: Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique
- 284: British Virgin Islands
- 664: Montserrat
- 268: Antigua and Barbuda
- 649: Turks and Caicos islands
- 876: Jamaica
- 809, 829, 849: Dominican Republic
Other codes to be suspicious of are as follows:
- 758: Saint Lucia
- 441: Bermuda
- 246: Barbados
- 868: Trinidad and Tobago
- 784: Saint Vincent and Grenadines
- 264: Anguilla
- 345: Cayman Islands
- 869: Saint Kitts and Nevis
- 721: Sint Maarten
Suspicious area codes are those that are typically used by scammers and telemarketers. If you receive a call from any of these area codes, it's best to use caution and avoid answering if possible. If you do answer, be sure to never give away any personal information.