If you receive a call from a phone number you do not recognize, you can usually identify who called you without calling back or texting that number. Fortunately, there are several services that allow you to find out whether a business, a debt collector, a scam company or an automated calling system is pestering you.
Enter the phone number into a search engine
This is the first and easiest step to identifying the phone number's origin. Even if it is a legitimate call, the search engine will return a description. For example, it will tell you if it is a landline number from Ohio or a cell phone number from California. If it is a business that routinely calls thousands of customers, searching for the number will almost always identify the company and its location.
Enter the number into a reverse phone lookup database
If a regular search engine does not reveal the information you want, you can go to any of several web pages designed to identify unknown phone numbers. These are usually free and easy to find. Simply type the number into the database and you will get a location and likely a name. Keep in mind, however, that some engines do not identify cell phones.
Search for the area code and prefix of the number
Searching for the area code location in a search engine or a phone book can produce the state from which the number originates and possibly the specific area within that state. The first three numbers of a phone number also identify location, so a search for those six numbers, specifying that they are part of a phone number, will produce the required information.
Identify foreign phone numbers
Some countries have phone numbers with additional digits or prefixes that show that the call originates from outside the United States. However, some calls from outside the country can appear to originate from domestic numbers. Canadian phone numbers are identical to U.S. numbers and some scam artists in foreign countries purchase U.S. numbers to use on their phones to lend legitimacy to their calls. In many cases, a simple search engine entry can help identify a number's real country of origin.