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Zimmerman's Research Guide


Telephone Numbers

In many cases the easiest way to get a phone number is to look it up in your local telephone book or to call Information (411 or 555-1212). Also, you may have access to a CD-ROM with telephone numbers.

Alternatively, there are several free online telephone directories. I've gotten good results from Switchboard.com. Other online telephone directories are available through Virtual Gumshoe, Superpages.com, Argali and/or The Ultimates.

If necessary, try fee-based services. Accurint, TLO, LocatePLUS, Lexis, Westlaw generally go beyond the free services.

Cell Phones: Cell phone numbers are generally private information, but some fee-based services sell them, including Intelius and Accurint. FreeCellPhoneTracer.com has a money back guarantee, which they will honor if you contact them. Alternatively, try the fee-based public records resources discussed above and hope a cell number pops up.

You can use the resources listed in the "Location Look-Up" section, below, to locate the city or region where the phone number was issued.

Foreign: There are many online directories for finding foreign telephone numbers. For European businesses, also EUROPAGES.com. If that doesn't work, I call the AT&T International Directory Assistance operator at 412-555-1515. There are Canadian telephone number directories on Accurint and Lexis.

For foreign country codes, direct dialing prefixes and other information about dialing foreign numbers, visit DialCodesPlus.

Historical Information: The online sources seldom keep historical data. Your best is to find old telephone books, criss-cross directories or CD-ROM; these are often available in public libraries and genealogy libraries for the relevant town/city/county/region/etc. Haines Criss+Cross Directory subscribers can purchase historical information by calling the Haines Research Service (330-966-5550).

Location Look-Up: If you just need the country and city/town/etc. where a number rings, try the International Numbering Plans page by Spraakmaker Telecom FoneFinder, FoneFinder and/or FreeCellPhoneTracer.com. These can also tell you the name of the phone company and whether the number is active.

Reverse Directories: If you have a telephone number and want to find the related person or business you'll need a reverse directory, sometimes called a "criss-cross directory." Online, there are free options available through TheUltimates.com/white and Superpages.com. Intelius and Accurint have fee-based searches. In print and CD-ROM, the Haines Criss+Cross Directories cover business, government and organization phone numbers in larger metropolitan areas; subscribers can purchase historical information by calling the Haines Research Service (330-966-5550). Other criss-cross directories can be found in public and genealogy libraries for the relevant town/city/county/region/etc.

Search Detective has a reverse directory of cell-phone numbers.

TTY Directory: The deaf and hard-of-hearing have a special telephone directory for TTY users formally titled the TDI National Directory and Resource Guide, commonly known as "The Blue Book." The Blue Book is published by TDI (301-589-3786).

Unlisted Telephone Numbers: To get unlisted telephone numbers, try the fee-based databases discussed above. In addition to searching the phone directories consider the databases for property records, licensing and the databases discussed in the entry on "Finding People."

See Also
Area Codes
Finding Businesses
Finding People

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2015 Andrew Zimmerman