Reverse-Phone Look-Up: A Deep Dive

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Our DOTS Geophone Plus, a reverse phone lookup service, is our top of the line phone validation service. This article provides a guided tour of some of the most important data that this product returns.

First, Geophone Plus builds upon two other services: DOTS Phone Exchange and DOTS Geophone:

  • Phone Exchange covers phone provider information. What phone company owns the line? What is the basic area serviced by the line? Is it a Landline, Wireless or VOIP line? Has it been ported?
  • Geophone does the same but also adds basic contact data. Name, Address, City, State, Zip for Landline and VOIP numbers of the subscriber

Geophone Plus adds wireless contact numbers as well as aggregating a number of extra data sources and other features that will be described more thoroughly in this blog. Customers use this service to do things like clean up CRM, marketing automation, or other databases, validate web forms on the fly, append missing data, or help call centers more quickly identify callers. Now, let’s look at some of the key results from Geophone Plus.

Phone Provider details:

The provider information is basic information about the telephone company that services a block of numbers. All numbers in the US or Canada are organized into blocks of 10,000 numbers and assigned to various phone providers. Occasionally these are subdivided again into blocks of 1,000 numbers for smaller providers. The first 6 (or 7) digits tells you who the provider is.

This service names the provider that owns the block, the city and state it services, their latitude and longitude and the line type for the block (landline, wireless or VOIP). For a landline number, the city and state should be pretty closely married to the area where the landline is. However, for a wireless number, line owners are free to move around and the city and state would only represent where the user initiated the line and not necessarily where they are now.

In the case of a ported number (one that has been changed from one provider to another and even to different line types), the provider information will reflect the *current* provider and not the original: more on that in a later section. This means the line type should always be accurate and is very important to users that need to know if they are attempting to call a wireless number.

Phone Contact details:

The contact information reveals details about the phone line subscriber. Name can be a person’s name or a business name. Address, City, State and PostalCode are from the address tied to the line subscriber. PhoneType attempts to identify the phone number as belonging to a residence or business. Latitude and Longitude are the coordinates of the address specified in the contact.

For business contacts, we may also return an extended SIC code and description. SIC or Standard Industrial Classification is a system for classifying companies by industry. Service Objects returns a SIC code of 7375000 which refers to “Information Retrieval Services”. This could be useful for categorizing leads into industry verticals. However, the data is not always available via the phone records.

Finally, a quality score of HIGH, MED or LOW is returned. This score reflects how accurate Service Objects views the returned data. It is influenced by many things, such as last data verified, data source, collaborating data sources, phone type, and line type. We aggregate multiple sources together, and some of those sources indicate their own confidence level as well. Business data tends to be more readily available and of higher quality, while wireless contact data is the most difficult to both obtain and keep accurate. No wireless dataset is perfect, and not uncommon in any dataset to have inaccuracies.

Understanding the codes, notes and corrections returned

Notes are part of the miscellaneous data available in a GeoPhone Plus result and are very important.

They are True/False indicators that represent interesting things found during Service Objects collection and analysis of information about a phone number. They can be informational, or even trigger alternative actions for users consuming the service. A current complete list of notes can be found in our Developer Guide under Codes, Notes and Corrections.

Here are some of the more useful ones we currently provide:

  • IsPorted indicates whether a line has been ported to a different carrier or line type. This value would always be true if DateOfPorting was set, but a user might find it cleaner to do a search for IsPorted, instead of trying to analyze the date.
  • A quick identifier for toll-free numbers is IsTollFree. Toll-free numbers, while valid, would likely not be a good way to contact someone in particular and may just be considered bad numbers where contact-ability is important.
  • Notes fields also flag portable VOIP lines, which are numbers linked to carriers that do not require a physical address. There is opportunity for fraud with any portable VOIP line. The most famous of these are Google and Skype lines, which we identify with their own special notes (IsSkypeNumber and IsGoogleVoiceNumber). The more generic VOIP numbers will be flagged under IsPortableVOIP. Users may want to flag any number that is identified as any kind of portable VOIP line as potentially at risk.
  • Other interesting notes are focused on the connection status of a phone number. This service does not have a guaranteed way of knowing if a given number is active, but many indicators give a strong indication of validity one way or another. There a couple of note fields you want to take a look at:
    • IsConnected is tied to higher quality leads that have a high probability of being active.
    • IsPossiblyDisconnected is a number that has been marked at some recent point as deactivated. In some cases, false disconnected result may be due to a number being re-activated but not properly updated or being reassigned without contact data being updated.

Proper identification of disconnected numbers is a very challenging task; there are many offerings that offer partial solutions, but we have yet to see one that is perfect and it may likely be impossible. A new solution is being implemented for our Lead Validation service in the near future that may also find its way to Geophone Plus as well, so stay tuned!

SMS, MMS, tokens and Date of Porting

In addition to provider, contact and notes data there are several other fields available. These include SMS address, MMS address, tokens used and date of porting.

  • SMS and MMS address are email addresses tied to wireless phone numbers that can be used to send alerts and other messages to email. These emails generally have the format of “number@carriermailserver” but the service will describe the exact format for a particular provider.
  • Tokens are a feature available in Geophone Plus that allows users to pay based on the quality of data rather than just per transaction. They are not commonly used, but Service Objects would be happy to explain them more if desired.
  • Date of porting indicates the date that a porting event happened. Porting is very common among wireless users that may change providers every few years. But porting can also indicate a change in line type, which can be very important for companies focused on TCPA compliance. Phone numbers changing from wireless to landline or VOIP and vice versa can alter the strategy a company takes in contacting the owners of a particular line. In addition, a recent ported date can also signify a higher likelihood of a still active number.

Hopefully, this blog provides a deeper understanding of our reverse-phone lookup service, Geophone Plus, and gives some insight to the inner workings of the service, as well as a bit more depth on how to use some of the results. Please contact us if you have more questions!

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