Reverse phone lookup is a process whereby individuals try to learn about unknown phone numbers that called them using third-party services. Also known as reverse phone search, it searches and returns information about the person who registered a phone number. When applying for phone numbers, subscriber information must be provided, which will include identification and contact details. A reverse phone search accesses this information and can provide an answer to the question, “who is this number registered to?”
What are Washington Phone Numbers?
Over the last two decades, telephony carriers have evolved in the U.S along with the services they offer and the preferences of the users. According to a survey conducted in 2011, 96% of American households owned landline phones in 1996. However, by 2011, the number had fallen to 71% and continued to fall exponentially. As of 2018, only 5% of Washington households still relied solely on landlines, while 58.2% of Washington households relied solely on wireless carriers.
In 1900, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) was the only major phone carrier in the US. Currently, there are four major phone carriers in the US, commonly referred to as the “Big Four.” These companies are AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Their percentage share of the American phone market is approximated to be:
- AT&T: 39.9%
- Verizon: 29.2%
- T-Mobile: 16.4%
- Sprint: 13.3%
The decline in traditional landline usage was also hastened by the increased popularity of the Internet Protocol (IP) telephony. In 2000, it was estimated that 3% of all voice traffic in the U.S. came from Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service users. By 2010, there were 34.2 million business and personal VoIP numbers being used across the country. This number has almost quadrupled over the last decade, with 118 million VoIP numbers in use as of 2018, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Can I Search a Phone Number and Find Out Who it Is?
Yes, you can. When requesting and registering phone numbers, individuals are required to provide their identification and contact information. Using the information provided, reverse phone lookup services can be used to answer the question “who called me?” or to locate the caller’s address. All you need to have is the phone number of the caller, which can be retrieved with Caller ID. With that, you can get a name or an address. If you are seeking a particular phone number and have an address, you can perform a phone number lookup by address.
Fraudsters, however, avoid identification by reverse cell phone lookups by working around the phone number allocation systems that carriers employ. They spoof their phone numbers or block them entirely so that Caller ID cannot correctly identify them, This can make their subscriber information almost impossible to locate.
Is there a Free Way to Lookup Someone’s Phone Number?
There are a variety of online services that allow you to perform a phone number search free of charge. However, results obtained from such services are often rudimentary and may not be very unhelpful. It is impossible to get all the important details from a service that offers a reverse phone lookup free of charge. The better option is to use paid reverse phone lookup services, as these provide more comprehensive results.
What are Phone Lookup Services?
Phone lookup services are a means for individuals to learn the details of anyone who calls them using unfamiliar phone numbers. They were primarily used by the police and other emergency services, who would receive distress calls and have to trace the numbers to respond. However, businesses began offering the same lookup services to private individuals for a fee. These fees have gone down over the past 20 years as access to mobile phones, and the internet has become more widespread.
One benefit of increased mobile telephone availability is the introduction of Caller ID, which allows telephone users to immediately see the numbers and individuals calling them. Caller ID has, therefore, improved telephone security. However, this has also spurred fraudsters to innovate. Telephone scammers hide their identities and get around Caller ID by using VoIP services to spoof their phone numbers.
In light of all these, the onus is on telephone users to be responsible for protecting themselves from phone scams. In order to protect yourself, you should be able to discern the tell-tale signs that a phone call is from a scammer.
Is Reverse Phone Lookup Legal in Washington?
Yes. Anyone can use a reverse phone lookup search to identify an unknown caller in Washington. While Washington does not have specific laws ruling on the legality of reverse phone lookup, it recognizes the need for this tool and individuals’ right to find out more about those calling them with unknown numbers.
Therefore, reverse phone lookup search providers can operate in Washington. While there is no government oversight for the apps, websites, and search engines offering this tool, Washington expects them to operate in accordance with its laws. This means that no user or provider of phone number lookup search can use the tool to defraud, harass, or harm residents of the state.
Washington also requires reverse phone lookup service users and providers to operate in accordance with state and federal privacy laws. Identifying and researching strange callers with unknown numbers does not constitute an invasion of privacy. Phone number lookup searches only deliver publicly available information. They get required details from records in the public domain. These sources include carrier databases, court records, and social media accounts.
What Information Can You Get from a Washington Phone Number Lookup Search?
The first detail needed by most people trying to identify callers using unknown numbers is their names. Reverse phone lookup free services can provide the full names of the subscribers registered to phone numbers submitted by users. Other details about unknown callers provided by lookup searches include:
Besides these four pieces of information, users of reverse phone lookup services can also find additional details. However, this may require signing up for subscription services or paying a one-time fee. Paid reverse lookup searches can find photos of unknown callers as well as public records, where available. For example, photos and recent activities of phone users can be found from the public posts on their social media accounts. Public records can be found in the custody of government agencies like courts and law enforcement agencies.
The additional details provided by paid phone lookup services are useful when researching phone stalkers, scammers, and spam callers. The information gathered can be used when reporting these individuals. Paid phone number lookup services can also be used to research businesses, charities, and organizations making cold calls, soliciting donations, or offering investment opportunities. With a reverse phone lookup search, you may be able to discover scammers impersonating representatives of legitimate businesses or find out about the shady dealings of an organization of interest.
What is a VoIP Number?
A VoIP number is a phone number that is assigned to an individual by a provider when the individual subscribes to a VoIP service. With this number, the individual is able to perform all the functions of a telephone using an internet connection anywhere in the world. These include voice calls, video calls, text messaging, and fax messaging. This convenient and flexible communication technology has proven very popular with telephony users all over the world and is sure to become a staple of the telephony sector.
Even as the general populace is rapidly adopting VoIP services, so too are telephone scammers. VoIP users are not required to attach their personal details to VoIP numbers or get numbers linked to their locations. These provisions make it harder for law enforcement to identify and apprehend phone scammers using VoIP and increase its appeal to them. Therefore, phone users must be extra careful when answering calls, even from familiar-looking numbers.
What is a Washington Phone Number Area Code?
The area code system was instituted in the US in 1947 by a collection of companies known as the Bell System. Led by the Bell Phone Company, the Bell System designed the area code system under their North American Numbering Plan (NANP). The goal was to simplify the process of making phone calls between regions and satisfy the demands for new phone lines for a growing population.
Today, NANPA is under the purview of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Area codes are allocated to individual states by the NANP Administrator, who is appointed by the FCC. Area codes identify the various districts in states and are attached to phone numbers based on the regions in which the phone lines were registered.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission is responsible for liaising with NANP Administrator for new Washington area codes. They also inform residents of the state about any area code updates as they occur.
What is a Washington Phone Number Prefix Code?
A prefix code is a three-digit number that comes before the local phone code in a telephone number. There are usually 10 digits in an American phone number. The area code comes first, followed by the prefix code, and then the local telephone number. For instance, for the phone number (425) 930-9058:
- 425 is the area code
- 980 is the prefix code
If the US international dialing code is included, then the number takes on an extra digit before the area code. For example, with the number +1 (425) 930-9058:
- 1 is the country code for the United States
- 425 is the area code
- 980 is the prefix code