How to identify a phone number for free

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There are many reasons you might need to find the owner of a phone number, ranging from being harassed to being just plain curious.

Plenty of companies offer this information for a fee, but whether you are looking for a landline, mobile or toll-free number, you can first try several routes to identify information about that number for free.

Enter the phone number into a reverse phone number search website. The owner's name and address may be available for free in one of these directories (see Resources). A reverse search works for most phone landline numbers, unless the number is an unlisted number.

Enter the phone number into a call tracking website. These sites provide a database of information compiled from other people who report receiving calls from the same number (see Resources). The amount of information available for a phone number varies.

Find information on the number's area code and three-digit prefix. Even if you can't get information on the specific phone number, you can still find its general place of origin through the area code and prefix. Many phone companies, like BT, offer free area code lookup (see Resources) that will give you the caller's home town. Next, use a search engine like Google to look up the area code and prefix together in order to narrow down the location even further. For example, if the number is (0115) 905-1212, search for "0115-905." The area code tells you that it's an Nottingham number, and the prefix narrows down the exact suburb or town.

Call the number and ask the person who answers to give you the information. You may not even have to ask because if it's a business, the employee may answer the call with the business name. Use this direct method when you can't find the information through indirect means. For example, if you're getting repetitive calls or hang-ups, you are entitled to know who is harassing you.