Got a call from a number you don't recognize? As cell phone numbers are usually not listed in public databases, finding the owners of these numbers can be difficult, especially since some spammers spoof other people's phone numbers to avoid exposure! If you are being harassed over the phone and do not feel safe, report it to your local police or gendarmerie station. If you've been harassed by spam calls that annoy you, or just want to know who tried to reach you, learn about the different techniques that can be used to track down the owner of a phone number.
Method 1 of 2: Find an unknown or blocked number
Step 1. Start by looking at the call log or caller ID
All mobile phones automatically identify most incoming calls. If you have a landline number (home phone), contact your telephone operator to activate the caller ID service.
- Take a look at your phone's user guide or contact its manufacturer if you don't know how to check the call log for the latest incoming phone numbers on your mobile.
- There are ways to bypass caller ID or even get the wrong number to appear. If you cannot find the number with Caller ID service, continue with the following options.
- If you are harassed or threatened and fear for your safety, contact the local authorities (police, gendarmerie) for help. In most cases, there are specific procedures they can follow to locate dangerous callers.
Step 2. Request activation of the callback service
If you want to be able to redial an unknown number, ask your operator for the return code (or redial of the last incoming number) or search the Internet to find the return code for [your country]. Contact your operator and subscribe to the return call or last caller callback service if necessary, but note that this may incur additional charges.
- The return call code varies by country and telephone company (and may not be available in all regions). In France, this service is called 3131 at Orange (just dial 3131).
- Once the call you want to trace is complete, enter the last caller's callback code and you should hear a voicemail message telling you that caller's phone number, with the option to return the call, and also the date and time. the time at which it took place.
- In some places, ringback will only redial the last incoming call, without specifying the phone number in question.
Step 3. Activate the Stop Secret or Call Waiting services
If you receive repeated calls from an unknown number harassing you, contact your carrier and ask if the services listed below are available.
- Stop secret: this service allows you to identify hidden or spoofed calls and choose to answer them or not.
- Call waiting: this service lets you know who is trying to call you when you are already on the line, and thus choose whether you want to pick up or not.
- These services can sometimes be free. If they are not offered or if the harassment you are experiencing escalates, you may be able to convince your telephone company to offer you one of these services for free.
Method 2 of 2: Find a phone number
Step 1. Enter the number into a search engine
If reverse search sites leave you empty-handed, you can use Google, Bing, or any other search engine. Since these let you browse all kinds of data, you can find clues that can point you in the right direction. For example, if a phone number is associated with a business or website, information about these will be displayed.
Try to format the number differently, for example XX-XX-XX-XX-XX or (XXXX) XXXXXX. You can also try to enclose the entire phone number in quotes and without any other symbol (for example, "XXXXXXXXXX")
Step 2. Try a reverse lookup database
There are many free websites that can provide basic information from a phone number. If the phone number you are looking for is a landline (so not a mobile phone) and is not unblocked, you may be able to find the name of the caller, company or their address on a reverse search site. If your search is for a private landline or mobile number, these sites will at least give you the location of the phone number and the operator. If you're asked to pay to level up or see more detailed results, go your way. You still have other free options to try.
- WhoCallsMe (EU)
- Whitepages (USA)
- Zabasearch (USA)
- Canada411 (CA)
- 411.ca (CA)
- ReverseAustralia (AUS)
- While some reverse search sites charge a fee, they very rarely provide results that you cannot find for free. Some sites are known to scam their customers, either by not providing any useful information or by deliberately stealing their credit card information. If you do decide to use a paid service, do your research on the company well and stick to services that use PayPal or other reputable third-party payment systems.
Step 3. Search for the number on Facebook or other social networks
Some networks allow you to search directly for a phone number to find the owner's profile on this site. For example, if the owner of the number linked it to their Facebook account, you can enter the number in the regular Facebook search bar.
If you think this is someone you have corresponded with online, find the site where you have chatted or shared information with them, for example on forums
Step 4. Call the number
Explain to the person answering that you have received calls from their phone number. Politely ask them their identity. If she gives it to you, stop there! But if not, try one of the methods below.
- Try calling from another number, such as a friend's phone, a Google Voice phone number, or a pay phone. If you have called several times without getting an answer, your correspondent may choose not to answer your calls. Calling from a friend's phone or a pay phone can help eliminate this possibility.
- If the person answering claims they didn't call you, a fraudster may have used malware to disguise their phone number as someone else's. This phenomenon is called "identity theft" and these numbers usually have your area code.
- In France, the local telephone code (the first two digits of the number, from 01 to 05) identifies the geographical area where a person with a landline number is located. This will allow you to narrow down the caller area a bit.
- The third and fourth digits of a French number correspond to the departmental zone of a caller. This will allow you to further narrow their area.
- To locate a cell phone that belongs to you or a family member, take a look at our article on the subject.
- Do not subscribe to a service until you have exhausted the free options. If you run out of options and the situation is dire, a paid service might give you more information. However, these sites usually do the same research that you did when trying the free methods, so forking out the cash often won't disclose information that you can't find on your own during your free searches..