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You can use this to see who called you, but it is also extremely helpful for companies to identify fraudsters and keep them out of their systems. You can try our demo for a set of full features such as:
- Is it a real number?
- Country of carrier?
- Is it a mobile or landline number?
- What social profiles are there associated with it? e.g Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
- Is it registered on any messenger apps such as WhatsApp, Viber or Telegram?
Get unique, reliable, real-time data from just a phone number or email address to tell good customers and bad actors apart.
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What Is Reverse Phone Lookup?
Reverse phone lookup is a process that gives you information about someone based on their phone number. It aggregates data from open sources, as well as social media and messenger apps.
Reverse phone lookup is a form of data enrichment. It’s a process designed to let you get extra information based on a single data point. Other examples include reverse email lookup and reverse social media lookup.
Data enrichment tools such as a reverse phone lookup solution are particularly useful when you’re trying to guess how risky a person is for your business. For instance, in fraud prevention, you can use that information to learn if the person appears suspicious or not.
How Does Reverse Phone Lookup Work?
Reverse phone lookup tools are available in a variety of ways, depending on which provider you choose. Some offer simple manual queries. You can also perform a search via API call.
Some providers, including SEON, even let you upload batches of phone numbers and get results.
Why Use Reverse Phone Lookup Tools?
Reverse phone lookup tools allow you to answer key questions to do with a phone number:
- Who called me?
- Who does the number belong to?
- Is the phone number real and valid?
- Should I trust the person who owns that phone number?
The last question is particularly important in the context of fraud prevention, marketing, or due diligence – when you want to learn whether someone should be trusted or not.
6 Key Features of a Reverse Phone Lookup Solution
Reverse phone lookup tools come in an increasingly wide range of shapes and forms. Here is your checklist to ensure you pick the right one:
- Pricing: Single-use phone lookup tools tend to be free. They might not be a viable solution for batch checks, though.
- Integration: If you’re going to integrate a reverse phone lookup tool into your platform, make sure you do it in a way that makes sense for your business (APIs, manual query, etc…)
- Data privacy: Most reverse phone lookup tools only gather open-source data. However, be mindful of data protection laws such as the GDPR.
- Ability to scale: Can your tool grow along with your need to verify more phone numbers?
- Data freshness: Where does the phone information come from? A stale database or fresh up-to-date sources? A bit of due diligence here can go a long way.
- Covered countries: Many free reverse phone lookup services are US-centric only. If you want to check international numbers, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
The 3 Best Reverse Phone Lookup Solutions
Disclaimer: Everything in this article was gleaned from online research, including user reviews. We did not have time to manually test all the tools. However, we ensured the information was correct as of Q3 2022. Feel free to contact us to request an update/correction.
SEON – Excellent for Fraud Prevention
SEON’s reverse phone lookup module works in real-time using fresh open-source databases only. You can use the modules separately or together to calculate a risk score, which should inform how you do business with your users.
The key to balancing out safety and customer experience is to gather as much data as possible about a person with a minimum amount of friction. SEON’s reverse phone lookup does just that, and it’s quickly becoming a favorite of risk managers worldwide.
The Phone API 1.2 also introduced the ability to detect temporary, virtual, and disposable numbers.
- Complete suite of fraud prevention tools: You also get reverse email lookup, IP analysis, velocity checks, and device fingerprinting to get a complete picture of who your users are.
- Fast and frictionless: No need to wait for the data as it comes to you in real-time. Ideal for integrating with your system via API calls.
- Supports international phone numbers: SEON can let you know about the owners of phone numbers from multiple countries.
- Not free: SEON is definitely B2B insofar as you need to pay a monthly subscription to access the service. There is a free trial though, as well as limited free functionality.
- Limited free functionality. For companies looking for customer intelligence and fraud prevention, it is pay-per-API.
Choose SEON If:
- You want to see a complete digital footprint starting only with someone’s phone number or email address.
TruthFinder – Best for Dark Web Monitoring
TruthFinder is an interesting service you can use as part of your KYC process or simply for amateur sleuths who want to learn more about a person. The company offers a reverse phone search tool, as well as a name search.
An initial search is free, and you need to pay $4.99 thereafter for unlimited reports (phone lookup only). An interesting feature of TruthFinder is its dark web scan, which looks at marketplaces to see if someone’s information has been traded or not.
- Affordable pricing: The subscription is broken down based on which features you use.
- Dark web monitoring: TruthFinder is one of the rare risk management tools that scan the dark web for sold ID documents.
- Not real-time: A simple search with TruthFinder may take up to 10 minutes, so it’s unusable for real-time KYC checks.
- Mostly US-based: It’s hard to even input phone numbers from places other than the US.
- Starts at a reasonable $4.99 per month for the phone tool only, with additional options for other needs.
Choose TruthFinder If:
- Most of the people and numbers you look up are based in the United States.
Spy Dialer – Great for Quick US Searches
Spy Dialer is a quick, easy-to-use reverse phone lookup service. It’s also completely free. As you can see from the screenshot above, you can also search by name, address or email.
Using Spy Dialer isn’t foolproof, though. You’ll find that non-US phone numbers won’t register in the system and that the results are mixed and not always reliable. However, if all you need is a quick free search to see who called you, it could do the trick.
Spy Dialer Pros
- Easy to use: Just enter the phone number and press search.
- Extra searches: Spy Dialer can also separately look into addresses and names.
Spy Dialer Cons
- Not scalable: You can only check one number at a time, and even then it might take up to five minutes.
- US-only: We didn’t have much luck getting information on phone numbers from other countries.
Spy Dialer Pricing
- It is free of charge.
Choose Spy Dialer If:
- You want a barebones tool to look up US-based phone numbers.
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What Data Can You Gather Based on Just a Phone Number?
Enriching data with a reverse phone lookup search will let you know information such as:
- Validity: See if the phone number is really in use or not.
- Country of the carrier: A form of geolocation based on the phone number’s carrier.
- Carrier type: Find out if you are dealing with a mobile landline or even a virtual SIM card.
- Digital footprint: Find which social media accounts are linked to the number. You can get a lot of info from finding someone’s Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter, etc. account
- Messenger data: With phone numbers linked to messenger apps (WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram), you can also retrieve the profile picture and information about when the user was last seen online.
Why Is Reverse Phone Lookup Important?
Reverse phone lookup allows you to get a lot of information from one data point only (the phone number).
Phone numbers are increasingly becoming part of our digital footprint. Analyzing that footprint can give us a good idea of who the person is.
This is important both for individuals who want to know who they are dealing with and for companies who want to avoid doing business with the wrong people – especially fraudsters.
Advantages of Phone Numbers for Security
Phone numbers are harder to create than email addresses. Fraudsters don’t usually go through the trouble of getting new, real phone numbers for each of their fake personas or schemes.
And while apps like Hushed or Burner app can generate new phone numbers, these will have no digital presence – in other words, they won’t have any social, web or messenger footprints. If there is no social data associated with the number, that is much more likely to belong to a fraudster rather than a legitimate user.
Historically, customers have been more reticent to share phone numbers than email addresses. This means there are fewer of them floating around on the dark web, for instance, and large lists of phone numbers have yet to appear in big data breaches. But this is good news: Any numbers that do get found on such leaks are very likely to belong to legitimate users.
Disadvantages of Phone Numbers for Security
In the context of security at large, using phone numbers can also have some shortcomings.
The first that comes to mind is probably two-factor authentication (2FA). It’s worth noting that 2FA with a phone number isn’t always as secure as one would hope. A growing number of white hat hackers have managed to bypass the security measure through phishing and other social engineering methods.
Another issue arises with the increasing popularity of SIM-swapping attacks. This three-step process, also known as SIM splitting or SIM jacking, sees fraudsters acquire a phone number through hacks, phishing, or sheer luck.
They then call the mobile phone’s provider and claim to want to change their number to a new one. The new number, which is in the fraudster’s possession, will then receive all the messages used for mobile verification, which allows the criminals to access other accounts such as email, social media, or even mobile banking.
How to Spot a Fake Phone Number
Spotting a fake phone number is possible using technical checks. You should commonly be looking for:
- CNAM (caller name delivery): A check made directly to the phone company to compare the caller ID with the phone subscription owner’s name.
- HLR (home location register): Looks at central database information to verify the carrier name, whether the phone has been routed, and if the phone number is virtual or from a traditional line.
- IMSI and MSISDN lookup: These numbers should be unique. If multiple users share the same International Mobile Subscriber Identity or Mobile Station International Subscriber Directory Numbers, you could be dealing with virtual SIM cards.
Note that virtual SIM cards aren’t technically fake phone numbers – but they certainly point to someone who is trying to hide their identity.
Reverse Phone Number Search with SEON
Reverse phone lookup tools come in many shapes and sizes, so the key is to look for the one that meets your needs.
- Do you need to block fraudulent users? SEON is a great choice thanks to its powerful module that looks at digital fingerprints including social signals.
- Do you need to learn more about someone? Services like TruthFinder can help. You may also look at Cocofinder, Instant Checkmate, or ZabaSearch.
- Do you need to quickly connect a number to a name? A fast search with a free service like SPYDialer or SPYTox is your best bet.
Of course, you can also use SEON’s free-of-charge phone number search to get fast, instant results for numbers anywhere in the world.
But SEON truly shines when empowering a company to identify both good and bad actors from their phone numbers, in order to reduce fraud, streamline onboarding, minimize account takeovers, and even identify VIP customers for tailored marketing.
How exactly SEON can help depends on each particular business’s KPIs and risk environment. For a bespoke demo using your own batch data, you can book a demo below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, as long as you collect data from open, public databases. It’s worth checking with your reverse phone lookup provider whether they abide by data security laws. SEON, for instance, is fully GDPR compliant.
Once you have a phone number, you can perform a reverse search to find information linked to it. The most common use is to find someone’s name. That data comes from the phone operator or caller ID service, which is open source, similar to a white or yellow pages search.
A good phone lookup service will let you know its price ahead of time. Professional services tend to charge a monthly fee as part of a subscription. Beware of “free” phone lookup services where the query is free, but the results are hidden behind a paywall.
No. A reverse phone search does not notify the phone owner that it’s being performed.
All kinds of phones. In fact, reverse phone lookups will tell you the type of phone it is. For instance, SEON’s Phone API results include whether the number is VoIP, or if it is disposable, the associated CNAM, the country of registration and much more.
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Communication Specialist | Florian helps tech startups and global leaders organise their thoughts, find their voices, and connect with customers worldwide.
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