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Phone Number

Up until the 1950s, phone numbers had both letters and numbers. Ultimately, a two-letter, five-number system was implemented to identify the phone number region and make it more memorable. However, this system had to be changed for various reasons, including lots of instances of getting the wrong number by telling somebody letters that sounded similar to others. A 7-digit system was created in order to expand the pool of possible number combinations with the first three digits corresponding to a phone service provider, and the last four a personal calling code. However, eventually seven digits were not enough to handle the demand as more and more phone numbers were created. Three more digits in the form of an ‘area code’ were added to the front of the numbers.

Keep reading to find out more about how phone numbers are used, some history on them, and how you can look up an unknown phone number.

How Phone Numbers are Used

Landline Phone Numbers

Each part of the phone number today has its own meaning. The entire sequence of a phone number acts like a map that tells the carrier where the call should be directed. In a landline phone number, there are several parts, which include:

Country Code: This is the first thing to dial to place a code. Around the world, different countries have a country code that is based on where they are located. For example, +1 is the code for the US and Canada, while Germany’s is +49, the UK is +44, and China is +86.

Area Code: The area code follows the country code and is the first three digits of the phone number. This code refers to a more specific geographic location. In the US, the area code might cover the entire state, while some states have various area codes.

Prefix: This is the second set of three digits in the number, narrowing the call down even further by directing it to phones within a select portion of the area code.

Line Number: This is the last four digits of the phone number, which are unique and identify a specific handset. Because of this unique line number, no two phone lines will have the same number even if they have the same country code, area code, and prefix.

When you dial a phone number, the phone company uses the four parts of the number to connect your call. It works similarly to an address by narrowing down your call to the country, geographical region, specific location, and finally your specific handset. The sequence cannot be completed if you are missing any part of the phone number when you dial, which means that the call may not be connected.

Mobile Phone Numbers

Both landline and mobile phone numbers work in the same way when it comes to identifying who to call. However, unlike landline numbers, mobile phone numbers are assigned based on where the phone was purchased rather than where it is located right now. It is not uncommon for people to keep the same mobile phone number even if they move around a lot to different areas, which might cause their landline phone number to change.

Looking Up Unlisted Numbers and Cell Phones

An unlisted phone number refers to a phone number that is intentionally not listed in online phone directories or phone books. This might be due to an oversight on the part of the listing company, or the number may have been removed from directories on the request of the owner. There are various reasons why a cell phone number might be unlisted, including being a new line that isn’t yet included in the phone carrier’s system. People may ask to have an unlisted number in order to avoid calls from spammers or telemarketers. However, there are many ways that unlisted phone numbers can still get these calls as they may make their way into available online lists through various methods. There is also a federal government Do Not Call Registry that phone numbers can be added to in order to prevent sales calls.

You may hear the terms unlisted and unpublished used interchangeably, however, the two are different. Unpublished means that the phone number will not be listed in phone books or online directories such as the white pages. On the other hand, unlisted means that the phone number will be removed from 411 services or directory assistance. The main difference between the two is that an unpublished phone number will still be available if you use an online 411 service or call directory assistance, while unlisted phone numbers will not.

Reasons to Find Somebody with an Unlisted Phone Number

There are various reasons why you may want to look up an unlisted phone number to track down somebody whose phone number is not listed. Some of the most common reasons for doing this are to unmask the owner of a suspicious caller ID, find an old friend or classmate, locate a scam caller or stalker to report them, find out who it is if you are getting calls late at night from somebody who just hangs up, or to track an unknown caller from your phone bill.

On the other hand, if you have somebody’s phone number but do not know their name, then you need to perform a reverse phone lookup. This should allow you to get further information on the caller even if their phone number is unlisted. There are various free reverse phone lookup services, but you can usually expect to pay if you want to get more than their name and address.

How to Get an Unlisted Phone Number

There are two ways to look up an unlisted phone number depending on the information that you have.

If you have the number: The first thing to try is to enter the phone number into a search engine such as Google. Click on anything that comes up, including business contact pages. You can also find apps that you can use to perform reverse phone number lookup or unblock somebody’s name from their phone number. If that doesn’t work, then try a paid reverse phone lookup service to see how much information you can get.

If you don’t have the number: If you do not have the phone number but have other information about them such as their name, then you can still try a lookup service to try and find the unlisted number. Get as much information on the person as you can and enter their name along with some of the information that you have gathered about them into Google or another search engine. Adding further information will help to narrow the results down and could help you find the unlisted phone number. If you don’t get anything from the web search, then you may want to consider using social media to track their phone number down.

Search for them on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social networks to see what comes up. You may need to request to follow them or send them a friend request to get access to their full profile, and bear in mind that not everybody has their phone number visible on social media. Finally, you may want to consider using a paid service that offers a reverse lookup using the person’s name, address, email address, or other information on them to get more details on them including their phone number.

Which Was the First Phone Number Ever Composed?

Due to telephone exchanges, phone numbers in the middle of the 20th century had both letters and numbers. Telephone exchanges refer to the hubs routing the phone calls at the time. Early phone users were provided with a unique number with five digits within their area that was proceeded by two letters that identified the telephone exchange they were connected to. Since telephone exchanges back then were only able to handle around ten thousand subscribers, it was not uncommon for large cities to have multiple hubs. Before they were converted to dial, hundreds of manual telephone exchanges existed across the United States, and number 1 was a popular option. Before converting to dial in the first half of the twentieth century, there were likely to have been hundreds of businesses with ‘phone number 1’. The number that is likely to be not only the first but overall, the most used phone number to be dialed is number ‘0’ for the operator.

How Can I Look Up a Phone Number for Free?

Since you have started using your smartphone, you may have received some calls from phone numbers that you did not recognize and were not saved in your phone. In some cases, you may have seen Restricted or No Caller ID flash up on your phone rather than the number. While most people just ignore these calls, you might be wondering who is calling you from a number that you don’t recognize.

There are options to consider such as blocking numbers individually or even changing your number from time to time, but that’s often a lot of hassle. Before you start looking up phone numbers, it's important to be aware of the different ways that a person could hide their identity when dialing you. It might be somebody that you know dialing you from somebody else’s phone or using a new number or they could be making a restricted call by enabling the Hide My Caller ID feature on their phone or dialing *67 before the number they are calling. There is also a range of third-party apps available designed to make anonymous calls.

There are various online search engines that you can use that offer a reverse phone number lookup service. With these services, you can also acquire valuable information about a person just by searching for a phone number. As long as you choose a reliable and trustworthy site to find out who is calling you, you may discover the name of the person who owns the number along with other information about them such as current and previous home addresses, registered aliases, other contact information, social media accounts and email addresses, and even known relatives. Conducting an in-depth search could get you even more information on the background of this person including criminal records, employment history, and more.

How Can I Search a Phone Number?

You can search for a phone number using a reverse phone lookup service to help you determine who has been calling you and if it is worth answering the phone the next time they do. Ignoring an unknown call can be a good idea, but there are several reasons why you might want to reverse lookup a phone number. These include:

Avoid Telemarketers

Despite the rise of various social networking sites and online advertising platforms, telemarketing is still a preferred option for some businesses. Many business owners and marketers conduct cold calls hoping that a more direct approach will help boost sales. Although telemarketing has been successful over time as an effective way to connect with potential customers, not everybody appreciates it. If you would rather avoid telemarketing calls, you may want to consider using a phone number lookup service to make sure that the number calling you is not a telemarketer.

To Screen Calls

Although not all unregistered or restricted calls are going to be malicious, there are some instances where you could be at risk if you do not know the identity of the caller. Today with more and more crime going digital, it’s always better to take precautions when answering the phone. A lookup service can be a good way to screen your calls, making it easier to separate the important callers from callers that might be scams, social engineering, phishing, or even cyberbullying and pranks.

To Confront a Stalker

If a stalker has access to your number, then the best course of action might be to change your number altogether. If you are dealing with the actions of a stalker and keep getting calls from a number that you do not recognize, then using a reverse phone lookup service can help you outsmart them. If they are using their personal number to call you, then a reverse lookup service can help you reveal their identity without them realizing it.

What to Do After Running a Reverse Phone Lookup Search

While receiving calls that are restricted or from numbers you do not recognize is not always dangerous, it can be frustrating. Once you use a reverse phone lookup service to determine who is calling you, there are several options to consider when it comes to the things that you will be able to do with this information. These include:

Ignore the Call

If you have looked up the caller and confirmed that this is not a call that you need to take, then you know that next time the unknown number shows up on your screen, you should just ignore it. Or, if you have conducted a search that has revealed criminal activity, you know that it is best not to pick up the phone.

Return the Call

Maybe a reserve phone number lookup will help you confirm that you are getting a call from somebody you know. With this information, you know to call them back, or answer the phone the next time you get a call from that number. You have verified that it’s not telemarketing or a scam.

Block the Phone Number

Maybe after finding out who is calling you with a reverse phone number lookup tool, you know that you don’t want to get any more calls from this person. In this case, you can simply block the number using your phone. Most modern smartphones have the option to block numbers by clicking on the number to get more information about it in your recent calls list. Simply click on the option to block and the person will not be able to use this number to call you again.

Report the Number

If you continue getting calls from a number that you don’t recognize and your searches have brought up results that show they do not have good intentions, such as a scammer, then you might want to report the phone number to the police, or another organization that deals with spam calls and this type of crime.

Why is it So Hard to Reverse Lookup a Phone Number?

Reverse phone lookup might sound like a simple solution, but it can often be difficult to do successfully as it is tricky to get hold of all the information that is necessary to identify the number. For example, you will often need the person’s name and address if you are searching for a number. If you do not hold this kind of identifying information on a person, then it’s going to be impossible to determine the number associated with it. Even if you have the number, you will often need to get some additional information in order to successfully find out who it belongs to.

Thankfully there are a few things that you can do to get this information. If you know the person, you could ask friends or family members if they have any more information on them. Or, you can search through public records databases, although these can be difficult to navigate and may not always contain all the information that you need.

How to Reverse Lookup a Phone Number

There are several options that you may want to consider to reverse lookup a phone number. Some will work better than others depending on the additional information that you have on the owner of the number.

Google Search

Google search may be an easy way to determine who is calling you if you have received a call from a number you do not recognize, and the caller is a business. Most businesses today list their number online on their website, social media, and other areas, so searching for the number should bring these up and make it easy for you to identify who the call is from, and whether or not it is worth calling them back. If you have received a call from a number that is a home number registered in the traditional phone book system, then there is a good chance that this will bring the owner’s information up in search results too.

Social Media

Social media can also be a good way to look up a number and find out who has called you. Facebook in particular can be a good way to perform reverse phone number lookup, especially if you are trying to find a phone number that is associated with an individual rather than a business. Facebook has a setting that allows people to be looked up by their phone number, which is enabled by default, even if people hide their phone numbers on their profiles. For this feature not to work, the person needs to have switched it off in their profile settings.

Public Information

You can use websites like White Pages to get some additional information on phone numbers. If the information is available in the phone book, you may also be able to associate a phone number with a person’s name and address. However, bear in mind that this information is usually not available. But, you may be able to get some further information on the geographical area where the number is registered, whether it is a mobile or landline number, and the phone company associated with it, which may be able to help you get a better idea of who is using the number. You can find this type of information freely available to look up on lots of websites. Some are free to use, while some may ask for an additional payment that you can make to find further information about the phone number outside of the basics.

Getting calls from numbers you don’t recognize can be annoying. If you are wondering who called you, there are several different options to consider when it comes to performing a phone number lookup and trying to get more information on who is trying to get in touch. It can help you find old friends or identify scammers.

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