How to Look Up an Unlisted Telephone Number
By Sharon Guy
Cell phone numbers and unlisted numbers are private, and won't show up if you search a phone directory. There are ways to find the owner of an unlisted phone number, but you might have to pay a fee. There are companies that provide online reverse phone look-up services. Fees vary depending on the number of searches you pay for. Most companies let you pay for one search or sign up for a yearly, premium membership to get unlimited searches. You can also try looking up information about an unlisted number on free search engines.
With a Known Number
Type the phone number into several search engines such as Google, MSN and Yahoo. Type it several ways--with dashes, without dashes and with periods.
Click on the listings that come up with information about the number. When a business or individual posts a phone number on a website, blog or online advertisement such as Craigslist, search engines pick up this information and save it.
Read the listings to find more information about the owner of the number. Look for information about a website or blog that the person uses. This might tell you if it is a telemarketing company, a nonprofit solicitor or an individual.
Type "reverse phone number lookup" in a major search engine if the free search fails. Choose a company and start with its free search by typing the phone number into its search feature. When the listing comes up, it will show the owner's location, and whether more information about the owner is available. Write down the fees for retrieving the information and save it. Research a few other companies and compare prices.
Pay for the search if you only need to look up one number. Pay for a premium membership if you need to do frequent searches. The owner's information will be available after you pay the fee.
Finding a Number
Type the person's name--and any other information you have such as city and state--into a major search engine such as Google. If he has listed his cell phone on a website or in a free online advertisements such as Craigslist, it might show up in a listing.
Type the name--and location if you have it--into the cell phone section of an online cell phone directory such as Phonebooks.com. Traditional phone directories do not publish cell phone numbers or unlisted numbers. Phonebooks.com has started to compile cell phone information, including cell phone numbers voluntarily submitted by owners. Review the list of names and locations to find the correct person, and pay the fee to receive the person's phone numbers and addresses.
Search through a people-finder service such as Peoplefinders.com or USSearch.com. Type the name, city and state into the search feature. You can search by name only if you don't have an address. Review the list that shows the names, ages and locations to see if you found the correct person. You can pay a small fee to obtain more information such as phone numbers.
- Look for online reviews of reverse phone look-up companies to see if any consumers have complained about their business practices.
- There is no guarantee that the fee-based searches will produce the owner's name or the unlisted number you are searching for. Beware of companies that try to trick you into signing up for a newsletter you don't want, or paying for an additional membership for services such as identity-protection services. Read the fine print before you agree to pay for the phone look-up.
Sharon Guy is a freelance writer and attorney. She has been writing for law firms, businesses and nonprofit organizations since 2000. She holds a Juris Doctorate from Quinnipiac University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in fine art from Bard College.