Getting a new cell phone is always exciting. And with convenient data backups and the relatively simple transfer of contacts and photos to your new device, cell phone companies have made it even easier. But let’s face it, there are always a few contacts that don’t make the cut for some reason. And, chances are, you don’t realize they are missing until it’s too late. Then comes the call that usually goes something like this:

Does Star 67 Still Work?

“Hey, how have you been?”

Or this:

“Happy Birthday! Miss you!” 

Or even this:

“I’m so sorry to hear about your [grandma, uncle, dog]. Let me know if there’s anything I can do.”

Now, you have a few options. You can bite the bullet and send a “Thank you. I’m sorry, you’re not coming up in my contacts. Who is this?” text. Sometimes a polite response is enough to fend them off, but there’s always the possibility that the conversation will continue and you’re in too deep.

Now it’s time to investigate. Luckily, you no longer have to rely on that infamous facilitator for all the best prank calls of the 1990s: *67. Although, you do still have the option to, even if for nothing more than a bit of good-natured nostalgia.

Modern technology has gifted us with the ease and convenience of screening calls before you ever answer the phone, but this has also made the anonymity of a landline phone hard to come by. Depending on the type of phone you use, concealing your own number may be as simple as adding *67 to the beginning of the phone number you’re about to call. Otherwise you may need to go through your settings and manually hide your phone number temporarily. Of course, people are less likely to answer a call from a “restricted” or “unknown” number, so hiding your number may not be the most effective method after all.

If your situation is a little more serious and you’re being consistently bothered by an unknown caller or want to dig a little deeper into the past of someone new in your life, you might want to turn to an online cell phone search. The only information you’ll need to provide is the phone number you want to investigate, which you obviously already have. You can use the previous link to look up the identity of anyone with a US number. 

The results will take a few minutes to gather, but you will have gained access to a trove of information. You will find everything from the caller’s criminal record to their past addresses and links to their social media accounts. So you have all this info at your fingertips, but how much is this going to cost you? You don’t have to spend a fortune to put your mind at ease. You can begin with a two-day trial for a single dollar. If you’d like the opportunity to make unlimited searches, you can opt for a monthly or tri-monthly billing schedule.

These sites aren’t exclusively for discovering the identity behind incessant, aggravating calls.  You have the chance to look up the numbers of registered sex offenders before settling into a new neighborhood, to keep tabs on an untrustworthy partner, to do a quick background check before meeting an online date in person for the first time, or even to vet a potential hire.

Today, googling a person before meeting them is not unheard of. Using the resources afforded to you by having internet access can save your future self lots of time and embarrassment spent on unworthy romantic partners and having to send the dreaded and awkward, “Who is this?” text.

iLounge author Lucy Bennett

Lucy Bennett is a Contributing Editor at iLounge. She has been writing about Apple and technology for over six years. Prior to joining iLounge, Lucy worked as a writer for several online publications.