Guide to Reverse Phone Lookup Tool & Phone Search 2022;

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What Is a Reverse Phone Lookup?

Reverse Phone Lookup is a process that lets you find information about someone based on their phone number. It aggregates info from open sources, social media, and messenger apps. 

Reverse phone lookup is a form of data enrichment. It’s a process designed to let you gain extra information based on a single data point. Other examples include reverse email lookup or 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 are Reverse Phone Lookups Performed?

Reverse phone lookup tools are available in a variety of ways, depending on which provider you choose. Some offer simple manual queries (as you can see from our tool above). You can also perform a search via API call. Some providers 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 a few key questions based on a phone number:

  • Who is the person 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.

What Data Can You Gather Based on a Phone Number Only?

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.
  • Social media/messenger info: find which social media accounts are linked to the number. You can get a lot of info from finding someone’s Facebook, Google, Instagram or Twitter linked 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.
data gathered by a reverse phone lookup

Why Is Reverse Phone Lookup Important?

Reverse phone lookup is important because it 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.

How to Spot a Fake Phone Number?

Spotting a fake phone number is possible using technical checks. You should commonly be looking for:

  • CNAM, or Caller Name Delivery: a check made directly to the phone company to compare the caller ID with the phone subscription owner’s name.
  • HLR, or Home Location register: looks at central database information to verify the carrier name, if the phone has been routed, and if the phone number is virtual or from a real 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 a virtual SIM card.

Note that virtual SIM cards aren’t technically fake phone numbers – but they certainly point to someone who is trying to hide their identity. 

6 Key Points for Choosing 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. It 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.

Advantages of Phone Numbers as Security

Phone numbers are harder to create than email addresses. Fraudsters don’t usually go through the trouble of getting real, new phone numbers for each of their schemes.

And while apps like Hushed or Burner app can generate extra phone numbers, they won’t have any social or messenger footprints. If we can prove that no social data is linked, it can increase the chances that you’re dealing with untrustworthy users.

Historically, customers were also 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.

Disadvantages of Phone Numbers as Security 

The first phone security measure that comes to mind is probably 2FA, or 2-factor authentication. 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 SMS used for mobile verification, which allows them to access other accounts such as email, social media, or even mobile banking.

The 3 Best Reverse Phone Lookup Solutions

Disclaimer: Everything written about the companies mentioned 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 [date published]. Feel free to contact us to request an update/correction.

SEON – Best for Fraud Prevention

SEON logo

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 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.

Pros of SEON for Reverse Phone Lookup:

  • Complete suite of fraud prevention tools: you also get reverse email lookup, IP analysis 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 owner of phone numbers from multiple countries. 

Cons of SEON for Reverse Phone Lookup:

  • 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.

TruthFinder – Best for Darkweb Monitoring

Truthfinder logo

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. 

screenshot of Truthfinder's reverse phone lookup tool

Pros of TruthFinder for Reverse Phone Lookup:

  • Affordable pricing: the subscription is broken down based on which features you use, starting at a reasonable $4.99 per month for the phone tool only.
  • Dark web monitoring: TruthFinder is one of the rare risk management tools that scans the darkweb for sold ID documents.

Cons of TruthFinder for Reverse Phone Lookup:

  • 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 number from places other than the US.

SPYDialer – Best for Quick US Searches

screenshot of Spydialer's reverse phone lookup

SPYDialer 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, addres,s or email.

Using SPYDialer isn’t foolproof, though. You’ll find that non-US phone numbers won’t register in the system and that the results are mixed. However, if all you need is a quick free search to check who called you, it could do the trick.

Pros of SPYDialer for Reverse Phone Lookup:

  • Eady to use: just enter the phone number and press search.
  • Dark web monitoring: TruthFinder is one of the rare risk management tools that scan the darkweb for sold ID documents.

Cons of SPYDialer for Reverse Phone Lookup:

  • Not scalable: you can only check one number at a time, and even then it might take up to 5 minutes. 
  • US-only: we didn’t have much luck getting information on phone numbers from other countries.

Reverse Phone 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.

truth finder reverse email lookup

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.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is reverse phone lookup legal?

Yes, as long as you collect data from open source databases. It’s worth checking with your reverse phone lookup provider whether they abide to data security laws. SEON, for instance, is fully GDPR compliant.

Where does the phone number come from? How is this data sourced? 

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. 

Are there any hidden costs to using a phone lookup service?

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.

Will the person know I’m searching for their phone number?

No. A reverse phone search does not notify the phone owner that it’s being performed. 

You might also be interested in reading about:

Learn more about:

Data Enrichment | Browser Fingerprinting | Device Fingerprinting | Fraud Detection API | Fraud Detection with Machine Learning & AI

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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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