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What’s the best reverse lookup service?
A reverse lookup service is an internet website that can tell you who is behind a certain phone number or email address. Many require payment to reveal results of your searches.
This information is derived from scouring millions of pages of online information and linking the data to individuals and companies. The best lookup services are those with access to the largest amount of data, or number of physical addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers, that can be traced to individuals or businesses. These services also make connections among the vast amount of data they collect, linking phone numbers and email addresses to other information to create a complete profile of an individual.
Some suggest that internet search engines are just as reliable as paid services when it comes to ferreting out people connected to email addresses. Facebook’s 500 million subscribers is a good place to try the reverse lookup on your own before paying for a service. As a do-it-yourself search can require several sources to verify information; this list offers many ways to research individuals, including a variety of reverse lookup services.
How do reverse lookup services get information?
Any time a person submits his or her email address or other identifying information (name, address, employer, college, etc.) to an online source such as social media, it is potentially available to be scooped up by database services interested in reselling that information. In addition, many companies sell such information — identifying data about their customers and subscribers — to second-tier companies that may be able to use it in a lookup service. This may include credit card companies, phone and internet service companies, and public sources including cities, the state registry of motor vehicles, and utilities. Most are required to offer “opt-out” opportunities to help protect personal information.
Personal data is highly valuable on the internet. Websites, even online gaming sites, plant cookies on players’ computers to collect information about browsing and buying habits, then sell that information to others, enabling advertisements targeted specifically to the individual’s interests and allowing broad access to telemarketers who attempt to reach you by email and phone. When collected in bulk by major websites, this information is worth millions of dollars and can be sold many times over to a variety of interested parties.
Businesses that buy this data in order to target advertisements also need to “clean” the lists by eliminating those email addresses that don’t fit the profile of their intended audience. This can be achieved through reverse lookup services, which will help weed out the less legitimate addresses and save the business money by sending fewer messages.
Why use a reverse lookup service?
Unknown email senders whose messages show up in your inbox can be annoying and at times alarming. Unless the person clearly identifies himself, it’s difficult to know whether to respond at all, because some online scams and trojan horse emails that unleash damaging malware on your hard drive can look very innocent. Harassing emails from an unknown caller can be distressing — and illegal. A reverse lookup may be able to find out who the person is.
Other reasons to use a reverse email lookup:
- To find out who is corresponding with your children;
- To see who’s contacting your spouse;
- To verify the identity of a babysitter, date, or other acquaintance.
In addition, a reverse lookup may help determine the legitimacy of a business offer or email by providing physical location information through IP (internet protocol) addresses as well as connection to an established business. For instance, there are ways to determine if an email originated in this country, or if the email address is a “spoof” of a legitimate business email address.
Phishing scams, which are initiated through email contact, can be severely damaging. These emails seek to get confidential information from you by posing as a banker or other trusted individual, or can break into your computer if you click a link provided in the email. After getting past your computer firewall, the phishing scam can often tap into your accounts and get access to banking and credit card numbers. In addition they may lock up your data in what’s called a “ransomware” attack, and demand money to release it.
Spare yourself from reverse lookups by others
If you’re concerned about your own email address and personal information showing up in reverse lookup databases and other repositories, you may want to follow instructions on opting out, including sending a copy of your identification and a letter to the company requesting that your information be removed.