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Finding and Tracing UK phone numbers

In Espionage, Privacy on April 25, 2006 at 12:50 pm

Finding or tracing personal phone numbers in the UK is no easy task. I don’t pretend to know all the answers, but I can offer a few useful tips.

Let’s divide this article into three sections:

  • Finding a number, when you know the name of who you want to call
  • Tracing a number, for when you want to know who has called you.
  • Avoiding your own number being found or traced


Finding a phone number:

The first place most of us look when trying to find someone’s number is BT Directory Enquiries. Despite being charged to call this service, it is still free to use online. Ideally, you will need to know the surname, first initial and the town (or you will almost certainly end up with more results than you can manage!). 192.com also alows you to search the telephone directory for free, and is often more useful if you want to search nationwide rather than just in one place.

However, more and more people these days choose to be ex-directory (their home phone numbers are not publically listed). If you think this might be the case, you could try searching for the name of anyone else who might live with the subject. Also, try searching for the person online as described in my previous article to see if anything comes up. But be warned: if someone doesn’t want to disclose their home phone number, you are unlikely to be able to find it!

Finding a mobile phone number is even more difficult as there is currently no obligatory listings directory for mobile phone numbers. However, there are a couple of websites where people can submit their details and consent to being listed:

Tracing a phone number:

In the US, there are several services which enable you to reverse look up any phone number. However, in the UK, this is almost impossible for the average citizen.

BT will look up a number on your phone bill for you if you submit a query, and will trace nuisence calls to your landline. However, they cannot tell you who a number belongs to if you cannot offer one of these reasons for your query.

UK Phone Info can trace landline numbers to a location and offer some basic information about mobile numbers on their website. This is the only UK Phone number lookup I have found which offers services to UK based numbers, and though basic it can be helpful if you already have an idea about who the number may belong to.

Investigative Resources boasts that it can trace any (or at least, most) phone numbers in the UK, including mobiles. But this service comes at a very high price!, so only use this as a last resort!!

You could always try calling the number and ask who it it belongs to!

On that note, a friend of mine believed his girlfriend was cheating on him. He found a particular number on her phone bill and decided to find out who the number belonged to. Concerned that he would get hung up by asking directly who the answerer was, he said that he was Mr. Smith of such-and-such company looking for participants for a paid market research campaign. From this call, he got all the information he wanted: name, address, even date of birth! However, I must warn you careful reader, that I am unsure of the legal integrity of this act, after all, my friend was impersonating someone and elicited the said information by misleading!! (In other words, don’t try this at home!).

Avoiding your own number being found or traced:

For any number of reasons, you may decide that you don’t want people to find your own number. The first and easiest way to do this is to ask that your home telephone number be ex-directory so that no-one can find you in any directory. Ask BT (or your own service provider) not to include you in the UK phone directory. This is a free service, so you should not be charged.

Additionally, you may like to take advantage of the Telephone Preference Service which allows you to opt out of nuisence telemarketing calls; this is a free service which you can activate online.

With regards to your mobile number, as I mentioned before there is no compulsory directory of mobile numbers, so just be careful that you don’t include yourself voluntarily in any! Many Pay as you Go sim cards do not need registration details (Orange always ask before activation, though!) so this gives an extra degree of privacy to your details.

There may be instances where you need people to be able to call you, but you prefer not to give out your personal number, for example, when running a business from home. There are many companies which offer free 0845 numbers and calls to your number are diverted to the landline of your choosing. This can also be useful when moving home as you can take your number with you!

In order to stop your own call being traced, the easiest solution is to key in “141″ before the number you wish to call (withholding your number); this can be done on any landline or mobile, though apparantly some payphones do not allow callers to use this function. However, more and more people choose not to accept calls from anonymous callers, and your call may not be put through. There are a few ways around this problem:

  • Use a payphone, or another phone which can’t be traced back to you.
  • Use a calling card: many international phone cards route you through another number so effectively your own number does not come up. Do test this first though, as this is not the case for all such cards.
  • Call through a switchboard if you have access to one, for example at work. In this case, the number comes up as “unavailable”, rather than “withheld”. Again, check this works with your chosen switchboard by calling your own phone first!

I hope the information in this post is useful to you, whatever your telephony need. Below are a few links which may help with any other issues:

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  1. hi i recieved a call from 02085382853, actually i was away from my mobile phone and when i came to it the call was missed, i called back but no response want to now whose number is this as i have applied for a couple of jobs so am afraid maybe tht call is from them or something plz try to find out that whose number is this…

    cheers

  2. hi i have recieved messages from this number 07943656231 and dont know who it is

  3. I have ben getting phone calls from an 02031035179. They ring day and night from ‘Halifax’ (i’m not sure if this is a building society/credit card company or property). They are looking for a man who i don’t know and has never lived with me. I have told the tele sales people several times that there is no one of that name at this number but they still call! How can i stop these nuisance calls?

  4. yeah i had an 020 number ring me – they wanted to know if my dad owned a porsche i told them to politely f— off

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