Research the phone number. Researching the phone number that shows up on your caller ID for the call or text can be difficult. Sometime the phone number is spoofed. This means the caller ID displays a number (frequently with a local area code) to disguise the real number of the caller. Spoofed calls are nearly impossible to track.
However, I always recommend running a Google search on the phone number. Sometimes other people will have complained about the number and have connected the number to a company. Other times you will directly find the name of the company associated with the call. If the text message is from a five-digit short code, resources such as the U.S. Short Code Directory can sometimes help you find who is behind the text message.
Research the website. If you are able to obtain a website from the caller, you may be able to obtain valuable information about who is behind the call. Ownership information about the website can be obtained by performing a search at the ICANN registration website. The ICANN (The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers) website provides potentially useful information including various contact information for the website’s registrant.
Google is another incredibly useful tool to help research who is behind the website. Simply perform a Google search in quotes of the name of the website. For example, if you identified a website associated with the caller or texter as www.xyz.com you simply search the website’s name on Google in quotations (“www.xyz.com”). This allows you to possibly find names of people associated with the company, comments about the company by other people, or social media pages connected to the site. These are also additional sources of information that can be useful to figure out who is behind a call and whether they are worth pursuing.
Is the company worth pursuing? Once you have tracked down the company behind the calls or texts, the most important issue becomes whether the company is worth pursuing. Again, free internet resources can provide invaluable information.
LinkedIn is a resource that can provide a significant amount of useful information. Running a Google search for the company name in quotes and typing “LinkedIn” in separate quotes (“company name” and “LinkedIn”) can identify employees of the company, the number of employees of the company and potentially information about the success of the company. Looking at the profiles of the employees can help you identify witnesses later for your case and possibly provide valuable information about how the company places its calls or texts.
Google can also be useful to identify the financial condition and size of the company. Running a search for “[company name]” and “revenue” oftentimes provides financial information about the company.
Ultimately, many of the annoying calls or texts we receive are scams or are from fly-by-night companies. However, spending a little time to quickly investigate these calls and texts could help you, your client, or a potential client fight back against these calls.