But what if you wanted to do the same thing in reverse? Even though we have caller ID on pretty well all of our phones these days, we can oftentimes get little more than just a phone number. Who is this person that keeps calling and hanging up? Thankfully, there are services online like Reverse Phone Lookup Agent that you do exactly that: you provide the phone number and they provide you with the name, as well as other related information.
The Free Phone Reverse Lookup
According to the FAQ, “most numbers can be traced for free using our modern search tools and proprietary databases.” To test this theory, I did a reverse lookup on a phone number that I already know. In this example, I entered the phone number for Happy Pho, where we most often go for Dot Com Pho.
The good news is that Reverse Phone Lookup Agent had no trouble reverse tracing the phone number. The bad news is that the information I received was quite limited. As you can see above, it told me that the number belonged to a landline telephone in the Greater Vancouver area. It also told me that the number is serviced by Telus Communications.
While learning that the number is a landline on Telus has some value, that’s not really what most of us want to know. And I could have gleaned the geographical area based on the area code alone. So, what do you have to do to really find out who owns that phone number?
The Paid Upsell
You’ll notice in the screenshot above that there is an option to “run a premium check” under “Advanced Tracking Tools.” Not surprisingly, the “premium check” is not free. What’s more, it redirects you to a third-party service.
This is how Reverse Phone Lookup Agent is able to make money; that’s likely an affiliate link that generates a commission. You get sent to a page where you can take advantage of the “special price” of $2.99. This gives you the owner’s name, as well as other information like address, age, possible relatives, and historical locations. This is more relevant to personal numbers, rather than those of businesses, but the idea is the same.
Of course, the reverse lookup is not restricted to landlines. You can do the same with numbers belonging to cell phones and and smartphones too. In that case, knowing the carrier can be quite helpful, because you can sometimes send free text messages through the service provider’s website.
The Classic Bait and Switch?
Is this a bait and switch? Was there never a “full” reverse lookup for free in the first place? That’s possible, but this kind of business model is nothing new. You do get some relevant information for free, like the type of phone, most likely location and service provider, but there’s an extra trick involved: you can’t even see the “advanced” options unless you connect using Facebook.
As with all other services on the Internet, free or otherwise, you need to be careful where you share your personal information. That said, if you really need to do a reverse lookup on a phone number, three bucks isn’t exactly a lot of money.