The interconnected world has become a treasure trove of personal information. But sometimes, unraveling this information can be a daunting task. Taken by steps, there are ways to find specifically what is needed. And when it comes to contact information or a phone number, an email address can be a good way to start. But how to go about it? And how can you find a phone number from just an email address?
The search process problem
For the purposes of this article, it is assumed that the email address in question is valid. That’s because there are millions of dead mailboxes that have been abandoned, deleted, or just inaccurate for multiple reasons. Some people just stop using their emails found on the dark web, and others change passwords and then, forget the credential.
There are still ways to data-mine even old information, but retrieving relevant data becomes problematic. People can and do change numbers, addresses, and contact info with some regularity.
Even with a valid email address, there are multiple potential roadblocks that crop up. Privacy concerns are becoming the biggest issue. A recent example is the EU GDPR regulations that have tightened down public information search.
Then there is also the problem of an address owner having a minimal social/work imprint. If the address is business-related, the phone number(s) may all be to a company switchboard. Here the privacy problem kicks in as it is illegal for these companies to give out private information to the public without proper documentation, a warrant, or other legal means.
Finding a phone number from an email address
Start with their Email
The easiest and most obvious solution is to email the person and ask for their phone number. This method works if there is a valid reason to do so. It will normally succeed if the person being contacted is familiar with the searcher or if the reasons are legitimate and verifiable.
If this isn’t an option, or the search is being done confidentially, then the next steps come into play.
Search engines: Google/Bing/Yahoo/Duckduckgo
Before a deep dive into the world of plugins and paid search tools, always check the obvious. The basic search engine will sometimes yield a treasure trove of data based on the email address.
The most important information will be the person’s name. That name can then lead to a further search for more data even if a number doesn’t show up. This basic search should always be the first attempt, as it is a completely free and simple method that takes little time to do.
Social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram, Snap, Tiktok
There are multiple social sites that can be searched, but these are the big guns. Just inputting the address into these sites’ search areas will normally bring up the closest contact matches. It is not as good as a name search. But if the email isn’t restricted by the user, this method can find all of the relevant information quickly. Even if there are no phone numbers associated, finding a valid name matching the address is a big step.
Another way to use these sites with an email address is to take the mail prefix ONLY as the search term. This is what reverse lookups do, only on an individual site level.
The biggest is Linkedin. An email search can yield all of the information needed to contact someone. In addition, a phone number is important on these sites as they are designed specifically to connect people.
One thing to remember is that some people will only provide basic information without giving out a phone number. (Businesses have no issue with this, but to prevent phishing or scam calls, individuals using these connecting web presences may leave personal info such as the phone number blank.)
The most popular business search sites you can try are the following:
- Jobcase, and many more.
This is an area of search where being careful is important. There are a large number of scam sites that will take your money and give no results. When using a legitimate “People Search” engine, understand that it will cost money to get the results most of the time. Some free engines will require giving personal information to retrieve results. (See the “Reverse-lookup” section below.)
These engines’ crawl’ the Internet looking for matches. If the match is found, they will produce the results. But nearly all of them require registration and payment in order to view the results.
Of course, having an account helps if you know that the site is on the up and up. Some of these paid sites will also do more than basic information but usually at an increasing scale of cost to the person doing the search.
Reverse name lookup
This is a type of search where you take the email address prefix (or the whole address), and input it into the search tab. Many social media sites take the name used from the email prefix. These sites comb the Internet to find user names. Many of them will give far more results depending upon the site used. The key is to get a valid name that matches the address.
Once you have the user name for a site (such as Facebook), you can search for that user on the site. It isn’t a guarantee of a phone number if the target of the search didn’t include that with their profile, but it can be a timesaver if an actual name isn’t known.
One thing to remember is that even if one of these engines is ‘free’, almost all of them will ask for your own personal information (email at the least) before showing any results. There are valid legal reasons behind this, as it can be abused. With the information attached to the search, these companies have information that can be used against illegalities.
The caution by the searcher is to avoid scam sites that will take YOUR personal info and provide you with no results. There are many valid sites in this category. But there are also questionable sites (similar to the ‘person-search’ sites that have been detailed earlier) that can cause problems for the person/company doing the search.
News Search (Google News, Yahoo News, WebCrawler)
This type of search is related to the Paid Search category. Some of these crawlers are indeed paid applications but do not have the specific focus that the previous category has.
They are also not as well known these days. Web crawlers, or ‘spiders’ as they used to be referred to are engines that do similar tasks to normal search engines such as Google or Yahoo.
They will search beyond the normal contact info, going into news and articles looking for matches.
These sites can be paid or free, and generally give raw data. The searches they do are far more in-depth, and many don’t have the simple interface of the main search websites.
These engines are not as efficient at providing ‘quick-hits’, but they are a good alternative if the search is proving problematic.
Online Commerce search (searchallcraigs.com)
A plethora of online buy/sell/trade sites is an interesting search option. Craigslist is one of the largest online trading sites on the Internet. The example given is a web crawler that specifically searches within Craigslist. If the target has ever sold anything on this site, the chances of finding a name or phone number are decent.
The best options are:
There are a number of people search plugins available for various browsers. Chrome and Firefox are the biggest entities, but many of the other browsers utilize the Chrome engine allowing these plugins to work. (Vivaldi is a good example of a ‘chrome-based’ solution that can natively use the plugins.)
Some of these plugins are frontends for paid solutions, while others are free-to-use. They do the same things (more or less) as the Paid Search category.
If all else fails and the search has been fruitless, professionals might be needed. This can be the most expensive method, but as a last resort, professionals whose job depends on successful results can lead to a satisfactory results. A private investigator should have the tools and skills to trace information online and provide you with details about the mobile number you need to find.
Finding people’s phone numbers through their emails is not always as easy as it looks. But when you try all the above solutions, you may get what you search for and even see other details from that Gmail address or any other provider.