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Reverse Phone Lookup: An Introduction



11 Jul 2016

Find out who is calling you!Millions of reverse phone look-ups have been performed by CallerSmart users in our community phone book, and tens of thousands of look-ups are successfully run every day. However, you might wonder what exactly a reverse phone lookup is, and what makes it different from other online phone book searches.

The main difference is that with a reverse phone lookup you must have the number first in order to search for a name and address, whereas with a regular phone number search you are looking for the phone number using the name of the person in the white pages, or business in the yellow pages.


Why Conduct a Reverse Phone Lookup?

We're sure you've received an unknown call or text in the past and questioned whether or not to pick it up. Maybe you did pick it up and it turned out to be an annoying automated message, a telemarketer trying to sell you something you don't need, a debt collector, or worse a phone scammer. If you didn't pick it up, you're left wondering who it might have been.

There are many reasons why someone would want to run a reverse phone lookup. Below are just a few reasons:

  • Reconnecting with an old friend or family member - We lose touch with people that were once important in our lives. Maybe the phone number was lost, stored in an old phone, or the person has moved. You can run a search on an old phone number or search for a current number to reestablish contact. 
  • Verifying online business contacts - Scammers use fake online businesses to steal information. Using a reverse phone number lookup can help to verify if the person or business is legitimate. Run the search before any transactions take place.
  • Checking references - People fabricate references. This applies to jobs, services, and personal recommendations. Investigate contacts before you hire someone to work in a business or perform a service at home, such as babysitting or handyman work.
  • Online dating - Confirm a person’s identity including full name and address. You can also determine if the person is using a landline, smartphone, or VoIP phone number. Many reverse phone lookups can provide social media accounts associated with the phone number.
  • Checking mysterious phone numbers - Is your significant other getting texts and calls from unknown phone numbers. Instead of getting angry and making any sort of accusations check the phone number with a reverse phone lookup. Chances are the mysterious phone numbers are associated with spam.

With CallerSmart's reverse phone lookup service, you can search any unknown U.S. phone number that calls you and find information about who the number belongs to, where the number is from, and see if there has been any feedback left on the number by other community members in our cell phone directory. You no longer need to wonder about who is calling or texting you - CallerSmart makes it easy to identify mystery numbers on your caller ID.

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

Caller ID (CID) is a service that allows a caller's information, such as their number, to be transported to the receiver's phone equipment. iPhones only display the number that is calling, unless the phone number is already saved to your contacts. 

Most voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications provide CID along with caller ID name (CNAM) information. The phone carrier of the caller is the responsible party for sending the phone number from where the call originates.

VoIP service works by converting analog voice calls into digital information. Regular 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 because the process is streamlined allowing companies to handle multiple calls within.

CNAM information provides you with the name of the caller. CNAM data, which contains up to 15 characters, show's a calling party's name to help the receiver identify the caller. When receiving the information, 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 receiving party will perform the database search to access the information.

CID combined with CNAM information will contain the originator's phone number and name. Once the phone call starts its process, the data is then transferred through a modem. This information allows customers to avert unwanted calls from solicitors while ensuring that an important call is never missed. Having the information is also useful when potentially blocking non-essential phone calls.

How Can I Run a Reverse Phone Lookup?

Running a reverse phone lookup on CallerSmart's website or in our free iPhone app is simple. You can copy and paste, or type, a number into the search bar on our website or our app. We will display any free results that we have.

Are Reverse Phone Lookups Reliable?

Caller ID spoofing can be a major problem when running a reverse phone lookup. Caller ID spoofing changes the number that is displayed on the caller ID. It can make it look as if someone is calling from the IRS or the local sheriff's department. You may think that you've received a call from a legitimate government organization or business, but this is not the case, even though the CID and CNAM information may indicate otherwise.

Phone scammers commonly use this technique to make it seem as if they are calling from a specific organization, or that they are calling from a local number. There have even been cases where people will receive calls from their own number that is being used by a scammer.

While caller ID spoofing is not illegal, using it in a malicious way 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 impersonates an official from a bank, credit company, government organization, charity, etc. Various technologies can be used to spoof the number, but the usage of VoIP and PRI (Primary Rate Interface) lines is the most common technique. 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.

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

There are services, like SpoofCard, which allow individuals to spoof their number, VoIP lines can also be used to spoof numbers as well as different types of software and hardware. Number spoofing is only illegal when it is being used to defraud and harass.

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 just the 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 recepients caller ID. This hardware or software copies the signal that is sent by the phones central office making it seem as if there is a call waiting. 

How Can I Detect Caller ID Spoofing?

It is impossible to trace where a spoofed number is coming from, or that it is being spoofed, which makes it very difficult to catch phone scammers who use spoofing software. You should never give your personal information such as credit cards, bank accounts, or social security numbers to callers who you do not know, regardless of where the caller ID shows the call coming from.

Be sure to run a reverse phone lookup on any unknown phone numbers that call you in CallerSmart's community phone book before you decide to call back. 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:

Can I Block Unwanted Calls From Telemarketers, Debt Collectors, and Spoofed Numbers?

There are several ways to block unwanted calls, although unscrupulous callers might not respect them. You should first make sure that your number is on the National Do Not Call List.

If you are being hounded by debt collection calls ask them to send you snail mail disclosing your debt. Once you receive this you can send a letter back to them asking them to no longer call you. After you do this a debt collector can no longer legally call you.

One thing to keep in mind with the Do Not Call List is that it doesn't cover all unsolicited, unwanted callers. 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

However on the bright side, once your phone number is registered, it never expires.

If prohibited calls persist even after your cell phone is registered, you can block the harassing number and report the caller to the appropriate authorities. Most law-breaking telemarketers and debt collectors should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). For more information please see our guide on reporting phone scams.

Why Does CallerSmart Only Allow People to Search by Number?

Privacy is important to us here at CallerSmart. That is why our phone book is only searchable via phone number. In order to search for a person you must first have received a call from them or been given their number.

How Much Does a Reverse Phone Lookup Cost?

Reverse phone lookup prices can fluctuate depending on the phone directory you're using. We offer both free and paid results for reverse phone look-ups in our community phone book. Our free results cover hundreds of millions of numbers, and our paid results dig even deeper to find more information for you when you search a number.

The more credits you purchase at once for a Premium Lookup Report, the greater the savings are for you. We also offer risk-free paid searches. If we can't find a first name and last name, or a business name, associated with a number, then you are not charged.

Can I Be Found With a Reverse Phone Lookup?

Reverse phone lookup your number.Possibly. Phone listings for landlines are public, unless the owner of the number requests that it be unlisted. Cellular phone numbers are not public, but they can be found in some cell phone directories. If the owner of the cell number publishes their number on social media, like Facebook or LinkedIn, it could be added to a phone directory.

Give it a try and search your number in our reverse phone lookup to see what information appears!

Where Does the Information in CallerSmart's Reverse Phone Lookup Database Come From?

CallerSmart's community phone book compiles dozens of the best public and private data sources for phone book listings. We are constantly updating our database to provide the best and most up-to-date results that we can. To help us keep all of those records up-to-date, users help make sure the listings are accurate, useful, and comprehensive

You can join other users and help keep our community phone book up-to-date by identifying and updating information on the numbers that call you. You can update listings and leave your feedback on numbers in our community phone book on both our website and in our iPhone app. The more you contribute the higher your Caller I.Q. and rank in our community of users.

By contributing information you also unlock fun Smart Badges with interesting facts about famous historical figures. If you're a trivia buff, then you'll love these little-known and surprising facts about famous historical figures. For instance, did you know that Ben Franklin felt that the bald eagle was a "bird of bad moral character," and wanted the turkey to be our national bird? We would have been saying gobble gobble all year long, not just at Thanksgiving!

Can I Prevent My Information From Appearing When Someone Searches My Number?

Yes, you can choose to have your number opted-out, which will keep your name and address from showing up whenever another user runs a reverse phone lookup on your number here at CallerSmart. You can do this by claiming your number in our iPhone app or here on our website. You do need to first verify that you own the number in order to opt-out, as we want to make sure that you are the owner of the number you're attempting to opt-out!

How Can I Get CallerSmart's Reverse Phone Lookup Service?

You can download our reverse phone lookup app for iPhone and iPad from the App Store to start running free reverse phone look-ups now. If you don't have an iPhone or iPad you can still search our phone book on our website. Both our app and website allow you to access and contribute to our growing community phone book!

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