Can You Trace a Fake Number?

|Put on your sleuthing cap

Need to trace a fake number or a real phone number? Put on your sleuthing cap, because we’re going to take you through everything you need to know about how to trace a number for free. (It’s easier than you might think.)

Why would someone need to trace a phone number?

When you answer a phone call, you have the right to know who’s really on the other end of the line. Right? There are plenty of reasons why you might want to trace a fake number (or a legit number):

  • You’re being harassed or stalked. 

Telephone harassment is no joke, and you might want to trace the phone number so you can provide that information to the police, along with a list of dates and times when the harassing phone calls occurred.

  • You’re getting nuisance calls.

While these might not be harassing phone calls that make you worry for your safety, prank calls or crank calls are frustrating and it’s understandable you want to know who’s making them.

  • You think you’re being tricked.

With so many spoof phone scams happening these days, you may want to check who’s been calling you so you can verify it’s a legit number.

  • You suspect someone is lying about their identity.

Maybe you’re dating online, and the person you’re speaking with seems to be calling from an unusual phone number or a phone number in a different area. If you trace the phone number, you could uncover their true identity.

How to trace a land line number

If someone is calling you from a land line, their name may appear on the Caller ID screen of your phone. (Whether it appears as “LAST NAME FIRST NAME” or “FIRST NAME LAST NAME” depends on the carrier.)

But many people have their land line numbers set to “private,” so you may see “UNKNOWN CALLER,” and that’s not very helpful if you want to trace the phone number, right?

However, the phone number itself should appear on the screen. Now you can look up that number online and see if it pulls up any results.

How to trace a number by Googling it:

When you’re Googling a phone number to trace it, it’s a good idea to try a few different formats because they could pull up different results:

  • Try it with the area code in brackets, like this: (555) 555-5555
  • Try it as one long number with dashes, like this: 555-555-5555
  • Try it as a single numeral: 5555555555

If you’re getting too many junky results (like the phone number appearing as a product ID or as part of a manufacturing bar code), try putting any of the above combinations inside quotation marks, like this: “555-555-5555” to narrow it down to phone number results.

How to trace a call with *57:

Depending on your home phone provider, you may be able to trace a phone call using a feature called *57. This feature won’t give you the person’s phone number, but it will provide the information to law enforcement — so only use it if you’re trying to trace a number that’s been pestering you with harassing or threatening phone calls.

How to redial a call with *69:

A classic with teens of the ’90s, *69 can be used to redial the last number that called you. It won’t work in every situation, but if you intercepted a harassing phone call (especially while you were on a different call), this Call Return feature can let you know the last person who called.

How to trace a cell phone number

Tracing a cell phone number involves the same sort of detective work used to trace a land line number, as they’re both considered “traditional” phone numbers and NOT so-called fake phone numbers, like VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) numbers from apps like Hushed.

  • Check the Caller ID
  • Google the phone number (see above for tips)
  • Try using *57 to trace the call
  • Or try *69 to redial the last number that called you

How to check the suffix of a phone number:

The “suffix” of a phone number is made up of the three digits following the area code. So in the fake number (555) 123-4567, the suffix is “123.”

While an area code can sometimes narrow down a phone number to a particular city, smaller states and provinces might all share one area code — which means you have a lot of ground to cover. That’s why it can be helpful to do a little research on the suffix.

  • Try Googling the phone number’s area code and suffix, but not the final four digits
  • This might reveal the actual city where the phone number was assigned
  • It also might tell you if it’s a land line or a cell phone

Now, this information isn’t always correct — especially if that number now belongs to a fake phone number app — but it’s a good jumping-off point.

We checked it using a few cell phone numbers and land line numbers with this free site, and it showed surprisingly accurate results for the city of origin plus whether it was a land line or cell phone. (No need to pay anything! You can check the basics totally free.)

How to keep a log of harassing phone calls:

It’s important to keep a record of threatening or harassing phone calls. If you decide to go to the police about the person who’s been calling you, you might be flustered, so it’s helpful to have the key details captured for when they ask you questions.

  • Record the date and time of each phone call
  • Note what number was dialed (your home, your mobile phone, etc.)
  • Describe what was said during the call, being as detailed as possible
  • Include information about how the call made you feel
  • Jot down any Caller ID details that may have appeared on the screen
  • If the caller left any clues about their identity, make sure to note those

A warning about reverse phone number results sites:

Don’t get sucked in by websites that appear to be tracing a number and “compiling results” while a map zooms into a specific area. Those sites can narrow down the location somewhat based on the phone number’s area code, so you might get excited thinking you’re really close to tracing the number.

At that point, the website will ask for your credit card information (possibly under the guise of starting a free trial) so they can “reveal” the details about that phone number, including who’s calling from that phone number. Don’t give these people your money, because you probably won’t even get the results you’re after.

How to trace a fake number

First off, when we say “fake” number, we’re referring to a non-traditional phone number that’s not with a regular phone carrier. Here at Hushed, our phone numbers work over the internet. To some people, that makes them “fake phone numbers” or “burner phone numbers,” but we just think of them as anonymous, untraceable phone numbers you can keep as long as you’d like.

While our phone numbers are definitely untraceable, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a chance you’ll glean some information about the person who might be calling you on a fake number.

Try this to trace a fake number:

1. Go to and select “Search”

2. Type in the area code of the fake number you want to trace

3. If the area code matches up with one in your state or province, it’s possible the person calling you is actually living in your area and owns a local phone number (whether or not it’s a Hushed number or a number with a local phone carrier)

Of course, it’s also possible that person lives somewhere else and they’re using an app like Hushed to buy a number in your area, to make it appear like they’re a local. Since you can buy a Hushed number for 300+ area codes from anywhere, it’s hard to say for sure.

4. If the area code is listed under a far-away location, it’s possible the person calling you is living in that particular state or province and owns a local phone number there (Hushed or otherwise).

And — yup, you guessed it — it’s also possible they live right down the road from you, and they’re using an app like Hushed to buy a fake phone number in a totally different location. Hushed numbers can be purchased in 300+ area codes, and you don’t need to live in a particular area to buy a phone number there.

Well, shoot. That really isn’t very helpful, is it? Unfortunately, the reality of a fake phone number is that you really can get them anywhere, anytime, for just about any location. Convenient for the people that want fake numbers, but not very convenient for the people eager to trace a fake number.

Wait, how can I tell if it’s a fake number or a real number?

Well, that’s the thing about fake phone numbers: you usually can’t tell they’re fake phone numbers at all. Because they aren’t purchased through a traditional phone carrier, there’s no name or mailing address involved in the transaction.

To get a Hushed number, for example, the sign-up process only requires an email address (and we don’t bother with email verification).

This is very different from signing up for a real phone number via a carrier plan, where they need your full name, address, banking information, and often perform a credit check.

The anonymity associated with getting a fake phone number is exactly what makes it so tricky to trace a fake phone number.

Can a Hushed number be traced?

Hushed numbers are untraceable and anonymous, which is very important to our customers who wish to call and text privately.

Here’s how Hushed numbers work:

How does a Hushed number display on a land line Caller ID?

If you receive a call from a Hushed number on a land line phone, you won’t see “HUSHED” on the Caller ID, or anything to tip you off that it’s a Hushed number.

(Although that would actually be really cool from a branding perspective, but don’t worry — we’ll never implement that feature. The beauty of Hushed numbers is that they function exactly like regular phone numbers, without anyone being the wiser.)

The Hushed phone number will appear on the Caller ID screen, but that’s it — no name. (Even the Hushed team won’t know the name of the person who owns that phone number, so there’s literally no chance of it appearing on a Caller ID.)

Photo of a cordless phone receiving a call, demonstrating that when Hushed numbers appear in Caller ID they look just like any other phone number
When Hushed numbers appear on Caller ID, they look exactly like any other phone number — nothing “fake” about them!

How does a Hushed number display on a cell phone Caller ID?

Just as with a land line phone’s Caller ID, the Hushed number will appear (complete with the area code), but there won’t be any names associated with it.

(Even the most senior-level Hushed staffers don’t know our customers’ names — all we have associated with a customer’s account is the email address they provided when they created it.)

Depending on the mobile phone receiving the Hushed call, it might try to determine the city where the number originated.

When we took the screenshots for this blog post, our Hushed number was displaying as “belonging” to a city several hours away from the city where we actually are. A quick Google search showed that this information was correct — the suffix of the number (the three digits following the area code) really does *belong* to that particular town several hours away. So there’s certainly no risk of anyone knowing our location based on our Hushed number.

Do Hushed numbers appear on phone records?

Incoming and outgoing calls made on your Hushed number will never appear on a statement associated with your regular mobile phone number (if you have one).

A Hushed number is completely separate from a regular phone number because you make and receive all calls (and send/receive all texts) within your Hushed app, so everything’s flowing over the internet — and not tied to a traditional phone carrier, who is obligated to show customers their calling/texting history.

But when you call or text someone’s regular phone number using your Hushed number, it will show up on their phone records as an incoming call or text.

It will never show your name, of course (because no one will know it), and it won’t show up as a Hushed number (because there’s no way for anyone to know that), but it will display the phone number itself — just like on Caller ID.

What if someone finds out I’m using a fake number?

That’s the beauty of using a fake number. You can easily “burn it” (a.k.a. get rid of the number) and just start over with a new fake number, if that’s what you want. Totally up to you!

Some Hushed customers have multiple fake phone numbers on the go (fake numbers for dating, work, personal, selling stuff, etc.) and they don’t care who knows it. In fact, many are proud to share their phone system with their friends and family because they’re so pleased to have private calling and texting organized and funneled into different temporary phone numbers, all ringing through on the same mobile device.

Remember, if you want to trace a number …

  • Try our go-to Google tips (see above)
  • Try different calling features (see above)
  • Keep a record of the calls (see above)
  • Be cautious and stay safe!

And if you don’t want your number to be traced …