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How to Find out Who Called Me

by on March 03, 2022
in Tips & How-Tos, Phones and Mobile, Tech 101 :: 34 comments

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These days when the phone rings and I don’t recognize the number, I usually just ignore the call. If someone really wants to reach me, they’ll leave a message. But when I’m expecting a call back from a doctor or am just curious about who called, I turn to a reverse-number lookup service.

The problem is that if you Google "free reverse number lookup" or some similar term, you'll get a lot of "people search" sites that claim to be free but actually charge a fee or provide a free trial to a recurring fee service (which you have to remember to cancel, and they may not make it easy). Some sites I found are just plain deceptive, claiming free search and just forwarding you to the people search sites for affiliate commissions.

There is one free service I’ve found that does a far better job than the rest, The site says they gather information from publicly available sources and has "billions" of phone numbers in its database. That sounds like an exaggeration, though I’ve tested it on mobile numbers, landlines, and Google Voice numbers, and most come back accurately. And, I’ve used it for months whenever I see a local number that I don’t recognize – I found missed calls from doctors, the pharmacy, my hair salon and more (often, the calling number didn't match the number I called for an appointment or prescription). SpyDialer will also tell you if it’s known spam. Occasionally, the service will show “No Record Found” (and it only works for US numbers) – it's not perfect, but it's pretty good.

IMPORTANT NOTE: One big downside to SpyDialer is that the interface is ugly and cluttered with ads, including ads for people search services that may cause you to click on an ad rather than the site's own search box. Here is what it looks like when you search for a number using the correct boxes so you don't get misled by one of the ads.

1. Enter the number in the box and make sure “Phone” is highlighted in black.

SpyDialer home page with a box with tabs on top. The first, entitled phone, is highlighted in black. In the box is a phone number and below the box in red is an arrow with the text enter number here.

2. SpyDialer will tell you what type of number it is – mobile or landline—and give you the option for "Hear Voicemail," “Name Lookup,” “Photo Lookup,” or “Phone Spam.” Make sure “Name Lookup” is selected and click on “Search.”

SpyDialer step 2

3. Here is the SpyDialer results page. You’ll notice the caveat that the data may be out of date. That always shows up.

SpyDialer results page

In addition to phone numbers, SpyDialer also lets you lookup people by name or email address.

Updated on 3/3/2022 after additional testing and to reflect SpyDialer site design changes

[Image credit: incoming call concept via BigStockPhoto, SpyDialer/Techlicious]

For the past 20+ years, Techlicious founder Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Prior to Techlicious, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Senior Technology Editor for Popular Science. Suzanne has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.

Discussion loading

Does Not Work

From Skippy on March 04, 2020 :: 3:55 pm

I just tried spydialer for two cell phone numbers and they were both incorrect. These are numbers that these individuals have had for many years and the names came up wrong. Stop trying to get us to use bad websites.


Not free

From Mel on March 04, 2020 :: 5:11 pm

I did a screen shot of my results its not free there is a.50 charge or 10 day free trial


It is free

From Josh Kirschner on March 04, 2020 :: 6:34 pm

SpyDialer is free. If you’re getting something asking for a fee, then you clicked on one of the ads (easy to do) rather than the correct service. And from the screenshot you sent me, it looks like that’s exactly what happened. Follow the instructions exactly as we have them listed above and you’ll get the correct, free result from SpyDialer.



From Mel on March 04, 2020 :: 7:14 pm

I sent the screen shot to your email Now it says only works in the usa Whats up with that When were you going to tell us that?

Updated the story to note US-only

From Josh Kirschner on March 04, 2020 :: 8:43 pm

Hi Mel,

We hadn’t tested it for non-US numbers. We’ve updated the story to make it clear that it is US only.


SpyDialer does work

From Josh Kirschner on March 04, 2020 :: 6:38 pm

SpyDialer isn’t perfect, but it has worked for the vast majority of numbers we’ve tested it with. It’s also the only free service we’ve found that will reliably give you an answer, as opposed to trying to upsell you into free trials or charge you fees.


Kinda important isn’t it????

From Mel on March 04, 2020 :: 8:48 pm

Kinda important isn’t it????



From Mark on April 22, 2021 :: 6:30 pm

It’s typical of USA websites to assume the USA is their only market. Who would have thought that the Internet is readily accessible (and used) by non-Americans?
Of course, the title of the site would have been “Find out who called me from the USA” by a considerate author.

US Only

From Dark Horse on March 04, 2020 :: 10:47 pm

Sad it’s US only.


Number Not Found

From Redwolf on March 05, 2020 :: 2:04 pm

In real checking of calls I didn’t answer, only 1 out of 10 numbers came back with a result. When I tested it with known numbers, I got results. The only benefit I see is that Spy Dialer is free, and actually checks the number you plug in rather than giving information on a range of numbers in the same exchange.


No results are helpful, also

From Josh Kirschner on March 05, 2020 :: 2:31 pm

The database is constructed from public records, so real people and businesses are more likely to have results than spoofed numbers or numbers that have never bee used for a legitimate purpose. So if no result comes up, that’s an indication it was just a spam call.



From Andyq on March 09, 2020 :: 4:50 pm

Totally useless. Stop putting up stupid articles like these that are virtually useless. I get lots of spam calls and doing a google I get more results than this link.


Not very good

From George Mells on March 09, 2020 :: 5:21 pm

I entered 5 numbers from my Comcast VIOP phone and only got a hit on the one that actually had a name listed in the CID log.  I have had better results with other services.



From Karen on March 03, 2022 :: 6:01 pm

please share these other’s


Free, except for the part where we charge you...

From Gus on March 24, 2020 :: 4:47 pm

Started by typing in my own number, they got the state right but that’s the only correct info they could come up with.  People finders?  I don’t think these guys could find there own mother’s with three people in the room.


You're using the wrong site

From Josh Kirschner on March 24, 2020 :: 8:00 pm

If you’re on People Finders, then you clicked on one of the ads (easy to do) instead of following the instructions we provided above. SpyDialer does not charge you.


Rude people

From Paty M on July 23, 2020 :: 5:02 pm

Hi, just read your article but haven’t check the service you recommend. Many numbers to check. This message is to make a point to all those rude (nicely said) comments. If the service did not work for you then just carry on and keep on searching for a “good” service. A good percentage of calls I get are spam. At home we are always scanning calls and will not answer a: we know who is calling or b: when the caller is leaving a message. Any spam call will not leave a message and so far 1 in 10,000 do leave a message and still is a spam. Call the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report 1-888-382-1222 do not Don’t just expect others to do your homework, do it yourself, and Techlicious, let people know of the places, government or not, that are really helping with this nuisance. Thank you for your attention and stay safe, wear a face mask.


Bored with nothing better to do!

From Jayci on September 12, 2020 :: 2:24 am

Hi Paty
Just wanted to say brilliant! Obviously I came to these comments a little late but reading over them I have to admit it was making me more then a little frustrated at all the people who have nothing better to do then to spend their day trying to punch holes in articles such as this! And then they don’t even do it right!! Lol. I agree with your comment and wanted to say nicely put!


From Holly on October 28, 2020 :: 4:13 pm

gee! How fortunate we are to have such an Expert on board to lecture us! So much bla bla blawith little substance.You managed to say another without getting most anythingcorrectly 1. The FTC can do nothing about Robo Calls coming in on Spoofed numbers.Since you’ve done your homework,I don’t need to explain why 95% of the robocalls driving people crazy are not traceable ( because they’re made from overseas, that part) 2.Being so knowledgeable, of course you understand how when and why the DNC List was created and therefore know its extremely limited in usefulness for stopping most robocalls. Why? Because DNC lists are comprised *only* of legitimate,Registered USA Businesses, and its sole purpose was to stop Legitimate Businessesfrom making sales calls, aka Telemarketing, to residences after Normal Business Hours. Providing your information to The DNC list will have ZERO effect on the overseas calls coming in made by Scammers using Spoofed numbers. 3. Experts also understand that they must *never* answer calls on CID listing only a City &State; and what happens once you take the call. And worse, what happens if you, from curiosity, return those odd CID missed call 4. Being adamant about contacting the FTC proves to me that you’ve not called them often and have maybe completed, at most, 4 Forms. Anyone who has attempted to use that arduous Form knows that the forms are long,  redundant, that 95% of the information required is about the Reporter and only lines asked about the actual call being reported and require details of which no one has kept such copious notes.  It’s a waste of 10 minutes. Imahine receiving 100 calls per month, worsening every year. WHY? The US Govt.,FTC,  technology cannot keep up,let alone compete, with the technologies of the overseas Scammers generating the robo/Spoofed calls. Before you assume people aren’t trying hard enough like you do…STOP providing antiquated advice and outdated solutions to problems which your knowledge and “expertise”  is scance-at best.


From AAAAAA on May 21, 2020 :: 4:32 pm



Thank you

From CNote on November 13, 2020 :: 1:34 pm

Thank you Josh/Techlicious. I tried this and got the results I needed. I appreciate you posting this information.
I’m glad you stopped replying to negative posts. Some people will never be satisfied, even when someone is providing free, helpful information. Sad that you have to defend yourself because you didn’t list EVERYTHING, as you were still learning the services capabilities. Apparently, screenshots and step by step directions aren’t enough.
I followed the provided instructions and viola! Results!
Thanks again for what you do.


You're welcome

From Josh Kirschner on November 14, 2020 :: 10:29 am

Thank you for your comments. Glad SpyDialer worked for you.




From W.J.R. Halyn on January 30, 2021 :: 4:12 pm

Hey, it’s “Voilá”, actually.
“Viola” is a musical instrument!


I'm with CNote

From Zus Hurst on June 29, 2021 :: 10:37 pm

Would like to add my gratitude to Josh/Techlicious and encourage all the negative Nellies to vent somewhere else. :>}


spydialer is not free

From Matthew McClellan on January 02, 2021 :: 9:00 am

I click on the link you posted for spydialer and it is not a free service.


Yes, it is free

From Josh Kirschner on January 04, 2021 :: 5:00 pm

If you follow the instructions we provide above and don’t get misled by the confusing ads on the site, you will get the information for free from Spy Dialer.


Thank you

From Patricia A. Raines on March 03, 2022 :: 12:21 pm

I love all your postings….and learn a lot!!
Thank you VERY MUCH!


Usually does not work

From Rob K on March 03, 2022 :: 12:33 pm

Even for US Based numbers, this doesn’t really work.  I have a robo-dialer that keeps calling me from “Big bear, California” with a 909 area code, the number changes every time they call because it’s not the real phone number.

I don’t know why the phone company can’t prevent companies from spoofing the caller ID!  It seems like a no brainer, you’re calling from this number and that’s what the person you’re calling will see.


New Rules

From George Merlls on March 03, 2022 :: 2:53 pm

I believe that a new Federal law and rules for telephone and cellular companies requires that they verify the actual number originating the call and blocking spam abusers.  But just like a lot of companies and individuals ignore the “Do NOT Call” lists these new rules will not stop the abuse.  A few days ago we got a call at 6:15AM from either one of the Microsoft or Apple service impersonators.


Works well given that its free

From Karen on March 03, 2022 :: 12:46 pm

I tried this out on some numbers from the caller id. Works pretty well overall. More info than I ever got from a paid site;  you just have to accept that there’s spoofing and recent number changes may not be updated yet.  The interface does suck, as warned. A paid Spokeo site was hard to avoid clicking on with all the ads popping up.


Here is how to spy

From Jackson on March 03, 2022 :: 2:09 pm

Here is how to spy on a cell phone without having physical access
EMAIL : .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) ,
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Explain what you want and go straight to the point.
Make available TARGETS DETAILS.
Start monitoring the device.


It works

From Linda Smith on March 03, 2022 :: 2:29 pm

I just tried spy dialer and it gave me 5 out of 7 correct answers, 1 out of date and 1 wrong name, all free of charge. There are a lot of other things to click on but if you ignore them, you’ve got it right. Thank you for the great info.


Spy dialed is great

From Jan on March 03, 2022 :: 7:12 pm

I’ve use this site for years.  I never assumed it would be 100% accurate, but it was the first that ever provided info for cell phones. I agree that the display is cluttered, but it’s worth navigating in order avoid all the pay sites.


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