Reverse Mobile Phone Number Search

Category: Reference , Search-Engines

A reader asks: 'Sometimes a phone number pops up on my phone's caller-ID that I don't recognize. I let it go to voicemail, but usually there is no message. When I call, there's no answer. An online search tells me only that it's a cell phone. How can I find out who owns this number?'

Reverse Lookup For Mobile Phones

If you're looking for the owner of a phone number, a search engine query may tell you for free. If the phone number belongs to a business there is a very good chance it's on the Web somewhere, and search engines have indexed it. If it's a residential landline phone number the odds of finding it online are slimmer but still realistic.

But if it's a mobile phone number, you are probably not going to find it online free of charge. That doesn't mean you can't find out who is calling from a mobile number - it just costs money.

Reverse mobile phone number lookup services have to collect databases of mobile phone numbers the hard way. In the U.S. and many other countries, mobile phone number data is more highly protected by law than residential or business landline numbers. That's because receiving calls on a mobile phone often costs the recipient money (unless you're on an unlimited-calling plan) while most business and residential numbers get incoming calls for free. So laws have been passed that forbid mobile phone companies from selling their customer databases to third parties, as the other types of phone companies do. Therefore, reverse mobile lookup services have to collect mobile numbers and the customer data associated with them one number at a time.
Reverse Mobile Lookup

They sometimes do it by offering reverse mobile free of charge - one time, and only after you give the company your mobile number, name, address, etc. That's how reverse mobile services get many of their records. Of course, then your personal information is up for sale, too! Some mobile number lookup sites even provide a form where people can enter the name and address associated with a mobile number, without offering anything in return. I doubt they verify this data, so that casts doubt on the usefulness of their service.

Reverse mobile services such as, and generally tell you a little bit about a mobile number that you enter at their websites, such as the name of the mobile provider that issued the number, and a best guess as to the geographical information of the number's owner. The city displayed is usually based on the area code, or tied to the store where the mobile number was first issued. The problem here is that for many years, mobile phone numbers have been portable from one provider to another, and as people move from one city to another, this information never gets updated. For example, I have a friend who lives in Oregon, but a search on his mobile number still shows a location in California, even though he moved years ago.

How Accurate Are the Mobile Number Lookup Services?

While researching this topic, I tested a dozen mobile phone numbers of friends that live all over the USA, with a variety of service providers. None of those searches revealed any useful information, other than the dubious city names and a guess at the mobile provider. But they ALL pointed me to paid search options, with the promise of scanning "millions of records in our database" to reveal the name and address of the owner of the mobile number.

PhoneDetective is one site where quite a few of the "free mobile lookup" sites funnel their visitors. "Yes, the full record is available including the mobile phone owner's name, billing address, etc..." But to get that full report costs around $15. Many reverse mobile lookup services have monthly or annual plans as well, presumably for people who get a lot of crank calls or make a lot of debt collection calls. Some even ask for $5 to remove your name from their directory.

So I decided to take PhoneDetective for a test drive. I entered a mobile number for which I know the owner's contact information -- a number they've had for at least eight years. PhoneDetective accepted my $14.95 payment and returned a name and address that was completely wrong. I promptly requested a refund, and if that doesn't happen, I'll report back here.

Some sources estimate that reverse mobile service providers cover about 80 to 90 percent of all active mobile phone numbers. But I think the number is MUCH lower. All we know is there's a significant chance that a reverse mobile lookup will find no results. That's why most reverse mobile services offer a money-back guarantee: if they don't find the information you want, you don't pay.

Yes, it's quite a bit more expensive than calling your local phone company's directory assistance operator for a landline phone listing. Reverse mobile lookup exists because there is a need in the marketplace. And it costs a lot because a) it's difficult and expensive to gather mobile phone information and b) people really, really want it!

Do you have experience using a reverse mobile phone lookup service? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Reverse Mobile Phone Number Search"

(See all 21 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Jeff Zimmer
26 Apr 2013

I usually do a web search on the number on the caller ID and see what comes up.

Most often the search result is on Who Calls Me (, a free site where users can log their experiences with calls from numbers. I've found it to be an excellent resource.

If I don't recognise a number I typically let it go to voice mail. Most legitimate callers will leave some sort of message.

Posted by:

26 Apr 2013

The best I've found is which offers 10 lookups for $9.99. They also accept payment by Paypal which reassures me they won't get me on a hook and never let me go.

Posted by:

26 Apr 2013

A number of call centres are using automatic dialling on the basis that maybe only one in ten calls will be answered. If you happen to answer a call but no-one is free to talk to you, the number will immediately hang up and not leave a message.

I save these numbers as 'SPAM' and avoided answering one of these a few days ago. Particularly frustating as I spend a lot of time abroad and it costs me money to answer calls.

Posted by:

26 Apr 2013

When ever I've gotten those numbers on my cell - I got it for ME, not others so in 3? 4? years I've given out that number less than 10 times. So when the phone rings my special friends have one tone, then all others I have listed have a second tone, and all others have a third, so I can tell my real 'Best Friends' who only call in emergent situations - and those who I might call, can wait a bit, and the numbers I don't have listed on my phone, are lucky if I even look at them.

When I get one of those calls, I try to look up the number through google. I often see a LOT of folks have comments about not getting anything when they called back - and since I have one of those cheap plans where I pay if I call or if I am called I don't use it much.

I spend a LOT of my time in the middle of Nevada doing research where there are not only NO towers (military and US government excepted), there are no signals so most of us use over-amped 'kickers' on CB radios or FRS radios. Thus my CB 'kicks' about 200 watts on max (5 watts is max legal) and my FRS kicks about 75 watts on max.

Now MY take is 1) if you answer or call back you confirm that your number is 'active' - and 2) if you put ANY data on a site THEY say is dedicated to finding out who these bothersome folks are, they compile saleable data on you and perhaps your phone number if you are ignorant enough to enter it. (ignorance is not knowing, stupid is not wanting to learn - we are ALL ignorant but we don't have to be stupid). And at least they can track a call they made and set up a webpage to see - track you to your ISP which is roughly geographic in location - though I use a free proxy if it doesn't slow me down much. So good luck tracking me to San Jose, CA so MAYBE a neutron bomb MIGHT knock me out, and most of these folks don't have a Neutron bomb around they are 'dieing' to use to lose their entire customer base they are collecting.

MY advice is, if you don't know the number, and you are NOT expecting a call, forget it. But then I only have one DIAL up phone in my entire house and it's locked in my office so I don't have to deal with it unless I'm 'at work'. Pick-up a phone call, and no one is there, I suspect it's an auto-dialer that can tell if your phone goes to voice mail, and then you are on a 'good number' list, just like the 'please remove me' reply to spam only confirms your e-mail address as 'active', better than simply a 'valid' number.

And, as I leave, here's a thought: It's NEVER a bad idea to be alone with your Self. Like grandma always said: the primary reason she had a phone was for HER convenience, not for others, it was not bad to use it to help others and save them some time. But it's never worth running to answer if it meant a job was left undone, or you hurt yourself or others to get there first. That was before their number would be there to call back, don't answer and you can wonder forever who it was and you'll learn if it's honestly important they'll call back, and if not, they won't - and what a waist of time talking to someone who wouldn't even take the time to call you back.

But then again, most of you have never grown up rurally enough to know how 12 or 24 party lines worked - We were J-26. We had 36 people on that 'J' line. And if your folks weren't listening you could bet at least ONE of your neighbors WAS.

Privacy becomes more precious the less we have of it, or so many market economists would lead you to believe. So, become a true revolutionary: create wealth until you have so much, it's worth nothing (if you had all the money in the world, it would lose ALL it's value): don't use your phone, and watch the market on privacy first soar, then crash and burn. Burst that bubble baby! Quiet Baby Quiet!

Posted by:

26 Apr 2013

I had an issue where I kept getting a txt mssg. from a cell number I did not recognize. After a little research and finding a ton of sites that wanted to charge me for "maybe" finding the owner, I finally found a site that was free. Although it is a little "sneaky" (but legal) it is called spy dialer ( you put in the number you are looking for info on and it will call that number, but will go directly to the voice mail and if the person has a voice mail message set up on their phone you will hear who the person is. Of course if they don't have a voice message set up you won't hear anything, but the price is right, and it doesn't leave them any trace of who called them.

Posted by:

26 Apr 2013

I just discovered seems like a good resource for unknown phone numbers.

Posted by:

26 Apr 2013

After recieving numerous "missed calls" from an out of state numberon my cell, I used several "free" reverse call lookups. All I could get was it was-- a landline in Iowa. No help...but if you want to pay...thanks but no thanks.

Posted by:

26 Apr 2013

I have a GMAIL account run by They are always asking for my cell phone number as part of my account information on their records "in case my account can't be accessed". Now why do you suppose it has to be my cell phone number verified by a google text message?

Posted by:

26 Apr 2013 doesn't give you the name associated with the number for free(anymore), but people can leave comments, and lots of them tell you if it's a spammer, and who they are. When they first started, the phone app did give the name for free, and it was surprising how accurate they were.

Posted by:

26 Apr 2013

How do you know the number you're researching is a mobile number unless you get a text from it?

Posted by:

27 Apr 2013

My experience is that even the "free" landline reverse phone number look-up sites are not free. If anyone knows of a site that really is free please contact me at Thanks!

Posted by:

27 Apr 2013

Does anyone have any sources for Canadian Reverse directories and reverse cel phone directories? While the sources listed in the article work quite well (reverse land lines), up here in the Great White North, we don't want to be frozen out of these types of service. Any help will help. Thanks, jamesinvictoria

Posted by:

27 Apr 2013

We have to keep in mind that old information never disappears. Even in the old days, anyone asking to change their landline number from listed to unlisted ("non-published") would discover that the number remained in commercial databases that already had the information (as well as old phonebooks!) Similarly, if today you "port" your former landline number to your new mobile service, your cell number will effectvely be no more private that your landline had been. Just being a "cell number" does not itself confer retroactive proection or undue previous disclosure of your data.

Posted by:

27 Apr 2013

We have to keep in mind that old information never disappears. Even in the old days, anyone asking to change their landline number from listed to unlisted ("non-published") would discover that the number remained in commercial databases that already had the information (as well as old phonebooks!) Similarly, if today you "port" your former landline number to your new mobile service, your cell number will effectvely be no more private that your landline had been. Just being a "cell number" does not itself confer retroactive protection or undue previous disclosure of your data.

Posted by:

30 Apr 2013

what about

Posted by:

05 May 2013

I now know why we are getting many solicitations, especially recorded messages. My wife placed an ad on Craigslist and listed her name and phone number. Most people who put ads on Craigslist either use the mailbox system or they write out their phone number with one or more digits spelled out.

Posted by:

J. S.
08 Jun 2013

I get unknown calls about once a week. I never answer & receive no voice mail.
I've had good results with just looking up the number on Google. 9 out of 10 it's a seller of something or bill collector of sorts.
It's free and fairly accurate.

Posted by:

29 Jun 2013

reverse cell phone search

Posted by:

06 Jan 2014

Last year I purchased a subscription to In the year it was active, I used it to check every unknown caller I got. This probably was a few dozen numbers. This service was unable to identify ANY of the callers.

Posted by:

13 Nov 2019

I am in Australia and am trying to find the location of a lady who has some legal docs of mine (yes, I have paid her for them) I got a mobile (cell) number for her from a real estate agent (realtor) and he gave me the number which he assured me was correct.Now, can anyone tell me a site where I could put in the telephone number and get her location, please. I have tried every site I can find, all to no avail. Replacement documents will cost me dearly, so I am trying hard to locate her. I had a little luck on Facebook BUT I don't know what she looks like so you all see to problem.

So, any clues on any sites here in Oz where I might be able top do a reverse search using what I believe is her mobile/cell number?

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Reverse Mobile Phone Number Search (Posted: 26 Apr 2013)
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