Reverse phone lookup is a vital tool in fraud prevention, lead generation, and much more. Many businesses and individuals benefit from using reverse phone lookups because they put many public records at the user’s fingertips, based on just a person’s phone number.

The software involved tends to be very easy to use: You can check out how easy by entering a phone number into SEON’s reverse phone lookup tool below.


Let’s look into what reverse phone lookup is, how it works, and how it can help your business.

What Is a Reverse Phone Lookup?

A reverse phone lookup is a process designed to let you get extra information based on a single data point: a person’s phone number. Reverse phone lookup is a form of data enrichment.

You can carry out a reverse phone lookup simply by entering a phone number into SEON’s phone lookup tool above.

A reverse phone lookup is the process of a user entering a phone number into an online search tool so the system can then aggregate publicly available information and present a data-enriched profile.

Such information is often from open-source or open-source intelligence (OSINT) databases, such as social media, personal information registered with government bodies, messenger apps, and so on. Some reverse phone lookups also involve the lookup tool cross-referencing the provided phone number against proprietary databases of financial or transactional data.

Other examples of similar data enrichment processes 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 gauge how risky a person is for your business. For instance, if you find that one of your contact’s personal phone numbers is not attached to any social media profiles, this may be cause for suspicion.

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How Does a Reverse Phone Lookup Work?

Reverse phone lookup works thanks to the fact that many people’s phone numbers are located in publicly available records, such as social media pages. If a reverse phone lookup process is successful, it finds online instances of the phone number and displays each one, providing a profile formed of aggregated data associated with the given number.

There are multiple ways to carry out reverse phone lookups, from simple manual queries to searches made via API calls. You don’t have to carry out lookups one by one: Some reverse phone lookup providers let you save time and effort by uploading phone numbers in batches.

Because reverse phone lookup involves data aggregation and retrieval, how well it works will depend on factors such as the number of publicly available records – if any – the phone number is connected to, as well as the quality and capabilities of the lookup tool. While many lookup tools are free to use, the more comprehensive ones usually come at a cost.

What Information Does a Reverse Phone Lookup Reveal?

A successful search reveals any and all publicly available information that’s registered to a phone number. For example, let’s say John Smith’s phone number is registered to his home address, business website, and Facebook page. A reverse phone lookup could use these three things to determine:

  • where John lives
  • where he works
  • the details of his social media presence, such as his friends lists, posts, and the pages that he follows

Social media details are especially valuable as they can help you carry out a digital footprint analysis.

On top of this, successful reverse phone lookups can reveal a person’s original phone numbers and even their previous home addresses. It is worth reiterating, however, that the success of a reverse phone lookup is hypothetical: It can only work if the data and lookup tool are available and effective, meaning there’s no guarantee you’ll find informative search results if you try reverse searching a phone number at random.

steps to determine if a reverse phone lookup has been successful

Why Is a Reverse Phone Lookup Important to Your Business?

Phone numbers are increasingly becoming part of our digital footprint. Analyzing that footprint can give us a good idea of who a person is. As such, it is important both for individuals who want to know who they are dealing with and for companies that want to avoid doing business with the wrong people – especially fraudsters.

Reverse phone lookup allows 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 – or claims to own – that phone number?

In other words, reverse phone lookup helps ensure you’re dealing with legitimate contacts and more streamlined communications in your industry. Plus, it can also save you the embarrassment of having to ask or be reminded of a contact’s details if you don’t know or forget them. This has the potential to enhance your business’s communication channels, marketing efforts, customer service, lead generation, and sales performance.

Using reverse phone lookup is a worthwhile way to increase your business’s reputation and efficiency.

Let’s say a system crash wiped out your business’s contact database. You would be in a desperate situation if this meant you had to retrieve, one by one, each person’s email address, social media account, and so on. Thankfully, if you still had your contacts’ phone numbers stored on your cellphone, you could enter them – in bulk – in a reverse phone lookup tool and salvage your business communications.

When Should You Use a Reverse Phone Lookup?

You should use a reverse phone lookup whenever you’re trying to find out more about a person, whether for research, social, or security reasons. The purposes of a reverse phone lookup can vary in seriousness from reminding yourself where a friend lives to helping report a crime, such as the phone-based attack known as a wangiri scam

From a business perspective, if you have the phone number of a person whose details you have doubts about – especially if you believe they have illegitimate details – a reverse phone lookup is a worthwhile approach to learning more about them.

All in all, you should use a reverse phone lookup when you have a person’s phone number and want or need to learn more about them.

A time when it’s highly advisable that you try a reverse phone lookup is when you receive a missed call from an unknown caller. This may make the need for a lookup time-sensitive. The caller could be someone with a legitimate need to contact you, but they could also be a scammer whose phone number and associated details should be reported to a telephone security authority.

How Do I Perform a Reverse Phone Lookup?

You can start by researching reverse phone lookup tools online. Find one or more examples that you think will be of use to you, then enter the phone number(s) of interest and observe the results. Any properly designed reverse phone lookup tool should offer a clear call to action for the phone number entry and yield results within seconds.

Whether you’ll always find it as simple as finding a lookup tool, entering one or more phone numbers, and accessing results, however, will depend on the software you use. Some reverse lookup systems are cheaper and more convenient than others, so while you might find a free, fast, and accurate tool, there may be others where you’ll have to pass a paywall before you can observe any results.

A worthwhile practice is to open more than one browser tab of reverse phone lookup tools. Then, you can perform multiple searches and gauge results for accuracy based on which tools agree and disagree with each other. For example, if two reverse phone lookups link a phone number to Manhattan and one links it to Los Angeles, you can assume that the latter is the least accurate.

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How Can SEON Help with Reverse Phone Lookup?

SEON can help with reverse phone lookup through its data enrichment capabilities. Rather than only providing basic details such as the email address and social media accounts connected to the inputted phone number, SEON can also yield more contextual details, such as a fraud risk score based on the resultant information.

This means that SEON can not only help you find who you’re looking for but also help you gauge the extent to which they may be suspicious or legitimate. Let’s take a look at the below interactive screenshot gallery to learn more:


As the above shows, a quick search for a phone number, which can be enhanced by also searching for the person’s IP address and email address if you have them, can reveal a fraud score, country, phone type (e.g. mobile/landline), and phone carrier. Plus, it can ascertain which online profiles the person has – not just their public social media accounts, but their WhatsApp as well.

This helps you gauge whether a phone number is valid and whether the user may be safe or suspicious. The more legitimate contacts are those with multiple online profiles, as opposed to a very limited online presence.

SEON can also detect disposable numbers. These are often a smoking gun when you’re already suspicious of someone being fraudulent. There aren’t many legitimate individuals who have no social media presence and use a disposable phone number.

Putting this all together, SEON’s reverse phone lookup system shows that checking someone’s phone number can answer far more questions than just to whom the number belongs.


How to detect spam callers

Use reverse phone lookup to see if the linked address is based in a potentially suspicious area, such as a call center from another country. On top of this, there are spam call detection apps that you can install on your phone, but always be sure that they’re from legitimate sources before downloading them.

What phone types does reverse phone lookup work for?

All kinds of phones. In fact, reverse phone lookups can tell you the type of phone it is. For instance, SEON’s Phone API results include whether the number is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or disposable, the associated caller ID name (CNAM), the country of registration, and much more.

Are there any hidden costs associated with reverse phone lookup?

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.

Can a reverse phone lookup show me text messages?

No. Reverse lookup is designed to present details about the phone number itself, not the messages or calls that the phone number has made, sent, or received. A reverse phone lookup, no matter how successful, will not provide any information about the specific activities of the phone and its number, just the contact information (such as social media profiles) that it’s associated with.

Will the person know I’m doing a reverse phone lookup?

No. A reverse phone search does not notify the phone number owner that someone has performed a lookup.

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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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