Reverse Email Lookup: How It Works & How to Perform It

There are well over four billion email addresses in use globally. Reverse email lookup is an invaluable tool for anyone who wishes to learn more about an individual based only on the person’s email address.

For an example of reverse email search in action, try out SEON’s email lookup widget:


Below, we look at what reverse email lookup is, how it works, and the many ways that it can benefit users.

What Is a Reverse Email Lookup?

Reverse email lookup can be carried out with either a dedicated software system or a search engine feature. It lets you enter an email address and get the owner’s personal data, which usually includes a first and last name as well as an address and phone number.

Such a tool may also obtain links to the person’s social media accounts and additional technical information about the email address itself.

Reverse email lookup enables a form of data enrichment, where you attain extra information based on a limited number of data points. It may be combined with other data enrichment solutions, such as a reverse phone lookup or Bank Identification Number (BIN) lookup, to form a complete profile about a certain website visitor.

SEON’s email search tool lets you gain personal information about someone using their email address. By searching public databases and social networks for links to that email address, the tool can reveal the email owner’s first name, last name, social media accounts, and much more. For example, as the below infographic shows, it can also determine such things as how many (if any) data breaches the address was involved in and when it was first seen online.

example of data points collected from a reverse email lookup

It’s thanks to factors such as this that reverse email lookups are not just equipped to identify people: They can also be very useful as risk analysis tools. This is because brand-new email addresses that have never been involved in a breach or registered on social media sites are more likely to be suspicious than long-established ones that have been subjected to one or more data leaks in the past.

How Do I Perform a Reverse Email Lookup?

Most of the time, you can simply enter the email address into the search bar of the reverse email lookup system and press the Enter button. If the email address has been correctly identified and found to be connected to publicly available information online, the results will appear directly on the website. Some providers also deliver PDF reports.

For more advanced lookups, you can use application programming interface (API) calls or web browser extensions dedicated to reverse lookup services. For some reverse lookup systems, you can also improve the overall efficiency and usability of the process by uploading email addresses in bulk with a spreadsheet input and downloading results to a dedicated document for your own records.

What Information Can You Find with a Reverse Email Lookup?

If the search yields all of the criteria that reverse email lookup systems have to offer, then anyone who uses one will find the name, organization, online presence, home address(es), and phone number(s) that are connected to the inputted email address.

Some reverse email lookups can even reveal a person’s criminal convictions if the information is publicly available and the given data regulations and jurisdictions permit it.

That said, finding this many results is the best-case scenario: There’s no guarantee that every email address is even active, let alone publicly connected to this many details.

The amount of information that reverse email lookup searches can grant users varies depending on the quality and relevance of the system, and how many – if any – publicly available records are associated with the given email account.

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Can You Track Anonymous Emails with Reverse Email Lookups?

Generally, it is not possible to track anonymous emails, especially with free and non-specialized email lookup tools. However, there are specialized equipment and personnel, such as digital forensic tools and law enforcement agencies, that can make it more likely to successfully form a profile based on an anonymous email.

In other words, a truly anonymized email, such as one that has been sent with no IP history attached to it, will need specialized personnel and equipment for there to even be a chance of reverse email lookup sufficing. This ultimately means that easily accessible reverse email lookup – which relies on publicly available information, after all – won’t track such an untraceable address.

In fact, if the sender is outright malicious, they may even take advantage of the potential uncertainty of reverse email lookup results by using fake IP addresses and social media accounts before sending the email.

It bears repeating that even publicly-available email addresses won’t necessarily be trackable with reverse email lookups, so yielding the desired results of each reverse email search is multi-factorial and sometimes a challenge in itself. This is especially the case when anonymous emails enter the mix.

How Does a Reverse Email Lookup Work?

A reverse email lookup works by receiving an email address from its user and then searching publicly available records, such as online directories and social media accounts, for any and all instances where that email address appears.

The resultant data is then presented to the user so they can – if this process is successful – obtain a profile of the email address owner. Shown as a step-by-step list, the process can be summarized as follows:

  1. Receive user input: The lookup tool receives the email address from the user.
  2. Search databases: The tool scans publicly available records.
  3. Match records: It identifies any matches between the email address and the publicly available information.
  4. Display results: The tool displays the matched records to the user.

In basic reverse email lookup, the results can only be successfully yielded providing each data point (examples of which include the person’s name, social media account(s), and phone number) is publicly linked to the inputted email address.

As such, the more sophisticated a reverse email lookup is – and the more that there are accurate, public records attached to the email address – the better the reverse email lookup search results will be. In other words, a basic reverse email lookup works when the data works.

The caveat of this is that, if the data isn’t working for the purposes of the search, users may need to elevate the task of tracing an email address. This could involve anything from paying for a better commercial reverse email lookup service (the basic ones are free to use) to relying on more sophisticated equipment and personnel, especially if the email owner warrants attention from the authorities.

How Can a Reverse Email Lookup Help You?

A reverse email lookup helps you determine the details of the email address owner. Being able to access this information can increase your organization’s cybersafety, help you gauge and report suspicious contacts, and make your business’s email-based and social media marketing efforts more efficient.

Respectively, these three benefits are possible because reverse email lookup achieves the following things:

  1. It puts a quick and easy identity verification search bar at your fingertips so you can rest assured that an extra layer of security applies whenever your organization encounters a new email sender/account holder.
  2. It lets you gauge whether someone is using a real email account and whether it belongs to the person they say they are, meaning that you’re better equipped to evaluate a contact’s risk level and whether that person should be reported to a cybersecurity authority.
  3. It helps you know who best to contact when your organization wishes to network with potential business leads or customers online.

Putting this all together, reverse email lookup helps you be safer, better protected, and more seamlessly connected online.

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Data enrichment, data aggregation, and social media intelligence (SOCMINT) are three key trends that benefit from the use of reverse email lookup.

Let’s look into these three trends:

  • Data enrichment: Businesses may increase the quality of their data owing to the easily accessible details that are granted by reverse email lookup.
  • Data aggregation: Reverse email lookup allows organizations to more efficiently share and retrieve publicly accessible data points about internet users, which makes company databases more comprehensive.
  • SOCMINT: By gathering links to an email account holder’s social media accounts, reverse email lookup helps organizations develop insights into people’s online activities and behaviors. The applications of SOCMINT range from general market analysis to law enforcement.

Reverse email lookup increases the ability of businesses and individuals to be both data-driven and insightful. That said, it’s likely that new – and possibly even more advanced – trends will surface in the wake of reverse email lookup and the developing technologies surrounding it.

How Can SEON Help with Reverse Email Lookup?

Aside from offering a reverse email lookup system itself, SEON enhances your email lookups with its data enrichment capabilities. Let’s take a look at the information SEON can process to optimize your reverse email lookups.

As the below animation shows, reverse email lookup tools can reveal far more than just an email address owner’s name, address, social media presence, and phone number.

Let’s see what SEON can reveal when you input an email address, along with an IP address and phone number to enhance the data enrichment process:


Based on the search criteria provided in the above animation, SEON is able to reveal the IP geolocation of the account of interest, alongside the number of email data breaches it was involved in. It even provides the account with a fraud risk score depending on various factors such as social media presence (or lack thereof) and the conceived riskiness of the IP.

Why not give it a go yourself? You can try out SEON’s aforementioned reverse email lookup tool just by entering an email address – or otherwise a phone number or IP address – in the box below:


Ultimately, finding a data-enriched profile is one of the crucial ways to tell fraudsters apart from legitimate contacts. Reverse email lookup systems such as SEON’s can put that process at your fingertips.


Frequently Asked Questions for Reverse Email Lookup

Are reverse email lookups GDPR-compliant?

While the act of legitimately carrying out a reverse email lookup is legal, whether the search itself will involve sifting through GDPR-compliant data depends on whether the target email address is connected to GDPR-compliant public records. Plus, some email lookup tools follow different jurisdictions and terms and conditions, so your best course would be to check the terms of use for each lookup tool you use.

How to trace an email address to its owner

Use search tools that are designed to reveal the email address owner’s IP address, such as SEON’s email lookup. Also, scrutinize the email address’s domain type because this could reflect where the person lives and where they work. Plus, by entering the email address in a search engine, you may find that it’s already attached to online databases, such as those hosted by LinkedIn and Meta.

Is it free to do a reverse email lookup?

It is certainly free to do a single reverse email lookup given that you can easily find free ones online. That said, the more you look for software that offers a high quantity – and quality – of reverse email lookup checks, the more likely it is that you’ll start being charged for the convenience.

Where does the information come from? How is this data sourced?

Most email lookup tools enrich data from open-source databases, such as those related to social media accounts and phone number directories. SEON’s lookup, for example, aggregates device, IP, and social media information.

What does an email’s domain type actually tell me?

It can provide information about the nature of the email and the location that it came from, and possibly the level of legitimacy or suspicion that applies to it. For example, “@wh!tehouse.g0v” is far more likely to have been sent from a high-risk sender than one sent from “”.

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Author avatar
Sam Holland

Sam is SEON's Fraud Content Writer. He has a background in writing and editing content for a range of tech and engineering publications which has led him to gain a strong interest in cyber security. At SEON, Sam enjoys writing about cutting-edge solutions to fraud attempts and cyber attacks, such as transaction monitoring and machine learning.

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