A reader asks: 'Sometimes a phone number pops up on my phone's caller-ID that I don't recognize. If you're looking for the owner of a phone number, a search engine query may tell you for free. But if it's a mobile phone number, you are probably not going to find it online free of charge.
Reverse mobile phone number lookup services have to collect databases of mobile phone numbers the hard way.
They sometimes do it by offering reverse mobile free of charge - one time, and only after you give the company your mobile number, name, address, etc. While researching this topic, I tested a dozen mobile phone numbers of friends that live all over the USA, with a variety of service providers. PhoneDetective is one site where quite a few of the "free mobile lookup" sites funnel their visitors. Some sources estimate that reverse mobile service providers cover about 80 to 90 percent of all active mobile phone numbers. Yes, it's quite a bit more expensive than calling your local phone company's directory assistance operator for a landline phone listing. I've had some luck just googling the number and will get links to sites that post scams and the numbers associated with them.
A number of call centres are using automatic dialling on the basis that maybe only one in ten calls will be answered. I spend a LOT of my time in the middle of Nevada doing research where there are not only NO towers (military and US government excepted), there are no signals so most of us use over-amped 'kickers' on CB radios or FRS radios.

Now MY take is 1) if you answer or call back you confirm that your number is 'active' - and 2) if you put ANY data on a site THEY say is dedicated to finding out who these bothersome folks are, they compile saleable data on you and perhaps your phone number if you are ignorant enough to enter it. But then again, most of you have never grown up rurally enough to know how 12 or 24 party lines worked - We were J-26.
Privacy becomes more precious the less we have of it, or so many market economists would lead you to believe.
After recieving numerous "missed calls" from an out of state numberon my cell, I used several "free" reverse call lookups. How do you know the number you're researching is a mobile number unless you get a text from it? My experience is that even the "free" landline reverse phone number look-up sites are not free. Does anyone have any sources for Canadian Reverse directories and reverse cel phone directories?
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This Reverse Phone Book Lookup Method For Southwestern Bell Cell Mobile Numbers works free!
Clipping is a handy way to collect and organize the most important slides from a presentation. If the phone number belongs to a business there is a very good chance it's on the Web somewhere, and search engines have indexed it.
That doesn't mean you can't find out who is calling from a mobile number - it just costs money.

If you happen to answer a call but no-one is free to talk to you, the number will immediately hang up and not leave a message. Particularly frustating as I spend a lot of time abroad and it costs me money to answer calls. They are always asking for my cell phone number as part of my account information on their records "in case my account can't be accessed".
Even in the old days, anyone asking to change their landline number from listed to unlisted ("non-published") would discover that the number remained in commercial databases that already had the information (as well as old phonebooks!) Similarly, if today you "port" your former landline number to your new mobile service, your cell number will effectvely be no more private that your landline had been.
If it's a residential landline phone number the odds of finding it online are slimmer but still realistic. After a little research and finding a ton of sites that wanted to charge me for "maybe" finding the owner, I finally found a site that was free. That's because receiving calls on a mobile phone often costs the recipient money (unless you're on an unlimited-calling plan) while most business and residential numbers get incoming calls for free. So laws have been passed that forbid mobile phone companies from selling their customer databases to third parties, as the other types of phone companies do.
Of course if they don't have a voice message set up you won't hear anything, but the price is right, and it doesn't leave them any trace of who called them. Therefore, reverse mobile lookup services have to collect mobile numbers and the customer data associated with them one number at a time.

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