Reverse Mobile Phone Number Search
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.
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 ReverseMobile.com, CellRevealer.com and PhoneLookup.com 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...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 26 Apr 2013
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Reverse Mobile Phone Number Search (Posted: 26 Apr 2013)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved