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Cell Phone Directory: An Introduction



08 Jul 2016

In the United States, telephone directories, or phone books, originally contained only landline numbers, published yearly by phone carriers. Each telephone directory covered a specific geographical area. The directories contain white pages with residential addresses and owner’s name; yellow pages include business information. As the internet grew, more and more phone directories moved online.
Cell Phone Directory

In addition to being online now, telephone directories don't only contain landline numbers. Cellular directories appear online from companies like Intelius or through various search engines, including Google and Bing. Some social media accounts attach cell phone numbers to member accounts. There are also online phone directories that contain cell phone numbers with the name of the owner, as well as toll-free number ownership information.


Are Cell Phone Directories Free?

There are free cell phone directories; however, they usually don't have records for every cell phone number. Telephone carriers in the United States don't publish cell phone numbers like they publish landline numbers. Many paid databases compile cell phone numbers. However, these databases require the cooperation of the carriers - and not all carriers participate. (Verizon has a policy of refusing to pay for CNAM results.)

CallerSmart stepped into this void. Our community phone book has both free results and offers the option to search paid databases to find more information about a specific number.

What Is the Difference Between Caller ID and Caller ID Name Information?


Caller ID (CID) is a service that shows a caller's information, such as their number, on the receiver's phone equipment. When a phone call is received, a display will show the phone number and, if available, the caller's name on the receiver's phone. Most Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications provide this telephone service today. The caller’s phone carrier is the responsible party for sending the phone number from the call’s original location.

VoIP service works by converting analog voice calls into digital information. Traditional phone systems utilize circuit-switched telephony, which sets up one channel between two points for the call to take place while also taking advantage of copper wires. VoIP technology makes it easier for customers by streamlining the process and allowing companies to handle multiple phone calls within the company.

The identifiable information provided with caller ID is known as the Caller ID Name (CNAM). CNAM, which usually contains fifteen characters, shows a calling party's name to help the receiver identify the caller. When receiving CNAM data, the initiator's phone company utilizes a modem to send the character information to the receiver's caller ID.

A CNAM dip refers to the action taken to look up the name from the Caller ID of the received phone call. The carrier of the call recipient will perform the database search to access CNAM information.

CID combined with CNAM will contain the originator's phone number and name. This information allows customers to avert unwanted calls from telemarketers and solicitors, while ensuring important calls get through. Having the contact information is also useful when blocking non-essential phone calls.

It is important to note that while landlines contain CNAM information, cellphones do not. CallerSmart solves this problem by allowing our users to access CNAM information on their iPhone.

Are Cell Phone Directories Reliable?

Paid cell phone directories provide more results than free cell phone directories. The results found in paid databases are often more reliable too. CallerSmart offers both options.

Cell phone directories face one big issue: number churn. Around 37 million phone numbers are recycled each year. These recycled numbers are given out as cell numbers to new owners, and the person receiving it has no idea who the previous owner was. Perhaps you've received collection calls looking for a person that is not you. This is probably because the person who had your phone number previously had some leftover debt.

The recycling of phone numbers is intended to prevent the U.S. from running out of 10-digit phone numbers, something that is predicted to happen by 2040. Due to the recycling of phone numbers, you may find results in a cell phone directory that are out-of-date or incorrect.

Another issue is the use of caller ID spoofing, many spam callers and scammers use this technique to make it seem as if they are calling from another location.

What Is Caller ID Spoofing and How Does It Work?

Caller ID spoofing is when a caller changes the CID and CNAM information that displays to disguise their true identity to the call recipient. Scammers frequently use this technique to deceive and convince their victims into giving away money or valuable personal information.

While caller ID spoofing is not illegal, using it in this manner is prohibited by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In the Truth in Caller ID Act, it is illegal for any person or entity to disseminate misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value.

The spoofing act is committed when the call originator performs a facade by acting as an official from a bank, credit company, government organization, charity, etc. Caller ID can be spoofed with various methods, but the main one is the usage of VoIP and PRI (Primary Rate Interface) lines. Employing the use of this technology makes it easy for scammers to spoof a call since they are able to choose the phone number they wish to display.

With telemarketers, the FCC requires that the company display its phone number to the receiver including displaying the name of the company distributing the goods and services. They must also have a number that the consumer can see displayed in the event the caller does not wished to be contacted anymore.

What Are the Different Ways in Which Caller ID Can be Spoofed?

There are multiple services, like SpoofCard, which allow individuals to spoof their number. Number spoofing is only illegal when it is being used in a malicious nature.

The most common forms of caller ID spoofing:

  • The caller uses a software or a service to change the name that appears when they make a call. 
  • The caller may block their outgoing calls from showing a name alias, but instead use a geographical location such as a city or state name.
  • The caller may use the existing number of a business or person, when a CNAM dip is preformed this incorrect information will display because it is associated with the number the caller has assigned to display when calling.
  • The caller will inappropriately use VoIP services to manipulate their victims. 
  • The caller will use a prepaid calling card. The PIN number that is provided through the prepaid carrier service allows the caller to indicate what their Caller ID name and number will be.
  • The caller will use a technique known as orange boxing, which refers to the use of hardware or software that generates signals that manipulate the call recipient's caller ID. This hardware or software copies the signal which is sent by a phone line's central office making it seem as if there is a call waiting.

How Can I Detect Caller ID Spoofing?

While it's impossible to tell whether or not a call is coming from a spoofed number when your phone is ringing, you should never give your personal information such as credit cards, bank accounts, or social security number to callers who you do not know, regardless of where the caller ID shows the call coming from. Be sure to investigate any unknown phone numbers that call you in CallerSmart's community phone book before you decide to follow up. You can see other user's feedback on numbers and check for suspicious behavior.

If you suspect that you've received a call from a scammer using caller ID spoofing, you should report it to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The two easiest ways to reach the FCC are:

How Can I Use a Cell Phone Directory?

To use a cell phone directory you can search by either name or mobile phone number. CallerSmart's cell phone directory can only be searched by a phone number that you have received a missed call or text from, or one that you have been given. We do this to protect the privacy of our users. In our reverse phone look up app for iPhone and on our website, we do have the option to search by name or email, however, this is via another database separate from ours.

If you run a search on a mobile phone number in our community phone book and there are no free results available, then we also offer the option to purchase a Premium Lookup Report with credits. Using our credits is risk-free; you will not be charged unless we can find additional information about the number.

Will My Information Appear in a Cell Phone Directory?

Yes, your number could appear in a cell phone directory. If you have ever shared your phone number on social media, filled in a survey with it, signed up for a digital service, or signed up for a store credit card which requires personal information like your cell phone and mailing address, then your number can be found in a cell phone directory.

In the fine print, many companies state that your personal information may be sold, rented, or shared with third-party companies. At CallerSmart we do not rent, sell, share or trade any personal information to third-parties.

Will Cell Phone Numbers Go Public?

No, this is a very common phone scam. Telephone carriers will never publish your cell phone number. Do not believe emails, texts, or phone calls that you receive claiming this. This is a ploy that scammers use to find information about potential victims.

How Can I Remove My Cell Phone Information From a Cell Phone Directory?

If your cell phone number appears in CallerSmart's cell phone directory, you can claim your number to manage your listing and opt-out any information from showing whenever someone else searches your number. This can be done via our iPhone app or here on our website. To maintain the integrity of our community phone book, you need to first verify that you own the number to opt-out.

If you don't want people to find information about you on people search apps, you must opt out from the service. This includes sites that do background checks.

How Can I Stop Telemarketers From Calling My Cell Phone?

In most cases it is illegal for telemarketers to call you on your mobile phone. Make sure that your cell number is on the National Do Not Call List. If you receive a call from a telemarketer on your cell you should always report it to the FTC.

Stop Spam CallsThe Do Not Call List doesn't cover all unwanted callers though.  The following can still legally call you even after you've registered:

  • Political groups & candidates
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Companies you've done business with
  • Survey organizations
  • Bill collectors & creditors.

Once your phone number is registered, it never expires.

You can also report telemarketers in our community phone book by leaving your feedback on the number that called you and warning others not to answer it.

How Does CallerSmart's Cell Phone Directory Work?

Our phone directory compiles over 600 million current U.S. phone records for our users to search. Nowadays, there's a tremendous amount of "churn", which is when a listing becomes obsolete, outdated, wrong, etc. All of this is happening faster than ever, due to the rise of number recycling, burner numbers, and the migration to cellphone-only households. It's common to find a phone number connected to the wrong person's name or contact information.

To keep our phone book up-to-date we provide our users with the best data possible and then engage their help to improve it even further. This ability to update our listings is part of what makes CallerSmart special. Because our app and website are collaborative, our users help ensure that our community phone book is up-to-date for all. That's right - our phone book is being checked and updated thousands of times a day by our users, which means that you get the most up-to-date phone listing available.

How Do I Search a Cell Phone in CallerSmart's Cell Phone Directory?

You can copy and paste and number or type it into the search bar. We will search through our proprietary compilation of the best public and private data sources for phone book listings and user-submitted information to identify the number. If we don't have any free information available, we offer the option to search private databases for more details, risk-free!

What If the Information I Find in CallerSmart's Cell Phone Directory Is Incorrect?

We are constantly updating our databases to ensure that our information is correct and up-to-date, but sometimes a listing may be incorrect or out-of-date. You can update our community phone book by leaving your feedback and updating the listing via our reverse phone lookup app. You can also ask for the help of other community members to help you identify an unknown number.

Furthermore, if you would like to update your caller ID information across a variety of nationwide CNAM databases, you should contact your phone carrier. This is especially useful if the information showing up about your business line is incorrect - i.e., name misspelled, business name changed, etc. - or if your personal information is wrong.

How Do I Get CallerSmart?

You can download our reverse phone number lookup app for iPhone from the App Store, or you can trace cell phone numbers via our website.

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