How to Use Google for a Reverse Phone Lookup

Do a quick reverse phone number lookup to find out who's calling

If you received a phone call from a number you don't recognize, you can do a reverse phone lookup. A reverse lookup on a phone number is just that: a search for more information about who owns or uses the phone number.

While there are lots of ways to look up a phone number online, Google might be one of the easiest methods because the company tracks so much information already. If the number has been crawled by Google, there's a good chance you'll be able to find its source.

An illustration of a person using Google on a computer screen to search for a phone number.
 Grace Kim ©Lifewire

Using Google to find the owner of a phone number is as simple as using a special search technique. All the details for a reverse phone lookup are below.

You can also use Google to find a phone number if you only know other details like the name or address.

These tips can work regardless of who makes the phone the number is associated with (it could be Samsung, Apple, Google, or any manufacturer) or which mobile carrier the number is associated with (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc.)

Google Phone Number Lookup Instructions

Screenshot of Chrome web browser with phone number in the search field.

To do a reverse phone number lookup on Google, simply type the phone number (area code, too) into like you see above. For example, you might type 555-555-1212 to do a reverse lookup on that phone number.

For most phone number searches, you'll immediately see lots of results. This is because Google pulls the phone number from many sources, so you might have to click or tap through each URL to find the correct information on that number.

However, if the number is attached to a business, that company will normally show up in the first few searches. In fact, if the business is already established in Google Maps, it might include the name of the company, its address, the phone number, hours, and more.

What's not so easy is using Google to find who owns a phone number when it belongs to a private household or is attached to a mobile phone. These details are usually not posted online.

Your only real option for a reverse phone number lookup of a private user's number is to hope that the owner listed the phone number on their social media profile or some other publicly accessible account. Google can pull up those accounts for you when you search for the phone number.

It used to be possible to use Google's phonebook search operator to do a reverse phone lookup. However, in November 2010, Google officially shut down the phonebook operator, due to the large numbers of people finding themselves in Google's index and sending in requests to be removed.

Tips for Using Google to Do a Free Phone Number Search

Screenshot of Chrome browser focusing on an address in the Search bar.

A phone number alone should be enough in most cases since phone numbers are unique, but if the reverse phone number lookup isn't giving you the results you're after, try using the person's name, too, or any other information you might know.

For example, if you know the phone number belongs to John Smith but you're trying to find more information about him, like his email address or hometown, attach those details to the reverse number search, too.

You might type "john smith" 555-555-1212 to see what information Google has on this person, but instead of a broad phone number lookup, you're including other valuable information like the person's name or occupation, city, state, etc.

Here are some other examples:

  • "john smith" 555-555-1212 portland
  • allison 555-555-8717 "lewis & clark college"
  • "jason smith" 555-555-1009 accountant

Another reverse number lookup trick for Google that will drastically slim down the results is to search just the one website you think the information might be listed on. Just add the "site" parameter, and optionally any of the other search tips from above, like this: "mary smith" 555-555-5791 portland

On the flip side, if Googling the phone number and name aren't working, try excluding the number altogether since most people don't include their number publicly anyway.

Simply type the person's full name, or any part of it that you know, plus their zip code, to see what comes up. One example is john smith 97204. From there, you might find an area of their social media account or some other directory that shows their phone number, but it just wasn't viewable from Google.

Reverse Number Lookup Not Working?

Many people have success using the Google phone number lookup method, but not all searches will work in your favor. Like you read above, most cell phones, some landlines, and temporary numbers simply aren't listed on the internet or aren't crawled by Google.

However, there are other ways to find someone's phone number online that might work better than a reverse phone lookup on Google.

Some websites you find through a Google reverse number lookup will ask you to pay for the results. See Should I Pay to Find People Online? for more information.