How to Find Whom a Phone Number Belongs To and Block Them
If you received a call and didn’t recognize the caller, how do you find out who owns the phone number? Do you call them back and risk calling a marketer or sales agent? Do you ignore it and get on with your day, or do you find out who it is and then decide whether to call them back or not? While most people receive several robocalls every day, curiosity often gets the better of them, and they want to know who called.
As you get more robocalls or scam calls offering deals that are too good to be true, you are increasingly likely to ignore calls from undisclosed numbers or ones you don’t recognize. That’s fine for the most part as we know the numbers of family and friends, but what if they used a different phone? What if you’re awaiting a reply on a job offer or expecting a callback from a contractor?
Knowing who a phone number belongs to is the only thing to set your mind at ease. However, genuine answers are usually not free, but they are also not expensive—a few dollars at most. This article discusses your options to discover who keeps calling you or identify who owns a particular number that called you once.
Identifying a Phone Number
There are a few practical ways to find out who owns a phone number. Most charge fees to provide more detail, but it is worth the cost in many cases. The price is often less than four dollars, and you get a name, location, and the type of phone connection, such as a landline or mobile.
1. Search on Google
In 2022, most people will use Google to answer all of their questions. Finding out who is calling you is no different. This option is usually the first place to go because Google’s algorithm is so well-programmed that you can instantly find out if the phone number is coming from a business.
If the number calling you is from a landline or reputable business, it will likely pull up accurate results quickly.
Even with its algorithmic accuracy, Google isn’t the best way to identify a phone number; but it is fast. You will usually see many websites that let you provide feedback on a number, submit a review, or help identify phone numbers. It isn’t always the most informative, but it can often identify a reputable business number.
Google is also helpful if the number presented on the call is a landline. Finding mobile numbers is difficult because there are laws that protect them. To get details on those numbers, you usually have to pay.
Another beneficial function of Google is finding the area code. You can use the first digits to identify where the call came from, assuming a computer or app didn’t spoof it. If the call is from a distant city, but you have family or friends there, it may be enough to call it back. But again, cell numbers are not published online unless linked to a website, business, or complaint.
2. Use Reverse Phone Lookup
There are many ways to perform a reverse phone lookup when you have the number but not the owner. These solutions are handy ways to identify who owns the phone number. Websites like Whitepages, WhoCallsMe, Pipl, Spokeo, or Numberville can all help you.
Many websites offer some degree of information for free, but not enough to ensure the accuracy or determine the actual source of the call. For better accuracy and details, websites charge a fee to gain access to identifiable information, or some give you a hint of who owns the number and ask you to pay to find out for sure. Bear in mind that the data may not reflect the current owner but is often correct.
The above scenarios apply to both landline and mobile phone numbers. Those linked above give you enough information to identify who owns the number.
3. Browse and Search Social media
If the number is associated with a company, it will likely get mentioned on social media. That’s especially true if it’s a robocaller or scammer, as many people will rant about it on Twitter, Facebook, or elsewhere. It might be worth putting the number into your favorite social network and searching for it.
Head over to one of the many popular social and use the search bar to type in the phone number. If a business, person, or association appears, you’ve found your mystery caller.
4. Call the Number
Your other option is to call the number back. This process is probably the easiest thing to do, but you risk calling someone you don’t want.
It’s a good idea to use *67 before dialing the number to hide yours. This action means your number won’t show up on the recipient’s phone, so you’re not confirming that your phone number is live if it is a marketer or scammer. If you want to talk to the person on the other end, you can. If you find you don’t want to talk to them, you can hang up or listen for a while, and they won’t know who called, as long as you used *67.
How to Block a Phone Number
If you receive frequent marketing calls from the same number(s) or have identified a caller and want to stop them, you can block the number(s) on your phone. Your device and provider handle the block. Mobile users will see a failed call on their call log, and landline users will be blissfully unaware.
Bear in mind that marketers and scammers often use different numbers or falsely send a fake number to get you to answer or get the call to go through, making it difficult to identify who called you at times.
How to Block a Phone Number on Android
Once you’ve identified who called you, there are a few ways to block a phone number on Android, depending on your smartphone’s make, model, and OS. The easiest way is to go straight to the call log. Here’s how.
Depending on your make, model, and OS, options may appear differently. However, the process is the same.
- Head to the call log on your smartphone, usually by tapping on the phone icon, then Recents.
- Find the call you want to identify, then tap it and select i or the three-dot menu icon to open the menu options.
- Tap Block.
- Depending on the model, you may need to select Block/report spam.
- In the pop-up window, confirm the block. You can also check the box next to Report call as spam if desired and available.
Now, any calls from that specified number will get blocked on your Android phone. You can also unblock them later if needed.
How to Block a Phone Number on iPhone
The process is similar on an iPhone as it is on Android devices.
- Go to Recents, then find the call on the list.
- Select the i and choose Block This Caller.
- Confirm your choice, and you’re done.
How to Block a Phone Number on Landlines
Different networks may have unique methods, but the easiest way in the US is to dial *60 and type in the number you want to block. Some networks charge for call blocking and may require you to activate the feature first. You should hear an audio prompt if that’s the case.
In closing, identifying who called you has become a hot topic these days, especially since robocalls don’t stop, telemarketers keep pushing services or products, and scammers keep trying to steal identifiable information or rip you off.
Once you know who is calling, you can block them or respond if they are a desirable caller, such as a distant family member, a medical facility, a company you ordered from, or even a neighbor.
Just remember that non-legitimate callers often change numbers to keep the calls coming or to trick you with a local phone number so you’ll answer. Those scenarios are challenging to avoid, but at least you have some control. Your smartphone and provider may offer a service that warns you based on the call history of a specific number, which would appear as “Potential Fraud,” “Potential Scammer,” “Private Number,” etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve included more answers to your questions about phone numbers in this section.
How do I find out where an area code is from?
In the United States, there are 317 geographical area codes. The number of area codes in the U.S. change with population. Phone numbers represent regions, and therefore, you can easily pinpoint the location of a caller by looking up the area code.
Most smartphones list the state that correlates with the area code already. But, if you’re using a landline or want to know a more specific location, you’ll have to resort to looking up an area code. You can do a basic search of the area code using your favorite search engine or use an online tool like All Area Codes. The latter will let you search by area code or city and state.
I signed up for the Do Not Call Registry, but I’m still getting spam calls. What’s happening?
The Do Not Call Registry is a service provided by the FCC and allows anyone with a phone number to sign up free of charge. Unfortunately, only reputable companies comply with this list. If you’ve signed up but continue to receive spam calls, it’s because the numbers reaching out to you aren’t legitimate businesses.
Another unfortunate aspect of spam callers is that there isn’t a way to block all of them. While you can block the numbers individually, a lot of the spam calls come from auto-dialers and systems that create new phone numbers regularly. This means that you’ll continue to receive some calls regardless of the precautions you take.
What do the different parts of a phone number mean?
If you’re interested in better understanding where a caller is, you can easily dissect the phone number. For example, the first digits represent the country of origin (the U.S. is ‘+1’). Next is the area code, three digits that originate from a specific region or state (some states have several area codes while others only have one).
After the area code, you’ll find the Exchange code (also known as the Central Office Code). This code is the three digits that follow the area code and represent a more localized area. Although not as useful today as it was in the days of POTS landlines, the Central Office Code once gave users the neighborhood.
Lastly, the four digits at the end of the phone number are a unique identifier known as the Subscriber Number.
Should I call a Robocaller back?
While it may be tempting to call a phone number back, we don’t advise returning their call if you don’t know who is calling you. Scammers are always looking for ways to exploit unsuspecting people. For example, some robocallers only want to see if your phone number works. Others want to charge you for the phone call (i.e., an international call).
Therefore, it isn’t a good idea to call the number back.
What do I do if I suspect a scammer is calling me?
One of the most popular scams involves creating urgency and fear in the recipient prompting them to call back and pay fines or bills. If you suspect a number calling you is spam, look up the company’s phone number and call it directly.
Even if the number looks legitimate, it’s a good idea to call the company back using an official phone number (one you find using Google, a piece of mail, etc.). At one time, spammers spoofed AT&T’s customer service phone number to collect payments and stole the customer’s money. Therefore, it’s never a good idea to give your payment information to someone who calls you.