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Now that everyone and their mother (and my mother) has a cell phone, perhaps you’ve noticed that it’s sometimes a little difficult to track down phone numbers. Unlike traditional landlines, cell phone operators don’t provide detailed directories with lists of phone numbers.

As a cell phone owner, we like to keep our phone numbers private – until we want to track down someone else. In those situations, a free cell phone search service would be incredibly useful.

Unfortunately, such a thing does not exist, mainly because of the privacy concerns of the cell phone toting public. Nevertheless, you can still cobble together a free cell phone search on the Internet, using a few useful resources.

When conducting a free cell phone search, you’ll want to be sure you know what you’re looking for! Sounds obvious, but it’s worth saying that a clear goal will help you search immeasurably. The two most common scenarios are:

a) you want to find a cell phone number for an individual (a regular look-up) or

b) you have a cell phone number (perhaps one mysteriously showed up as a recent call on your phone) and you need to know who it belongs to (a reverse look-up).

Ascertaining the type of search you want to do will directly impact your search parameters.

For both scenarios, the first tried-and-true free cell phone search technique is Google. Simply go to Google.com, and type in a search string that matches your objective. So, if you need to find a cell phone for a certain individual type in that person’s name and the word “cell” (if you don’t know their name, you’re probably out of luck. I know of no search service that will allow you to successfully search for that-cute-girl-I-met-this-weekend’s cell number.) If you need to find out who a number belongs to, type in the numbers in various phone related iterations (i.e., with parens and without) and see what comes up. You might be surprised. Many people have their cell phone numbers readily available on the Internet.

If that method of free cell phone search isn’t working, you might want to turn to a couple nascent directories out there, like the National Cellular Directory, which requires you to include your own cell phone in the directory in exchange for the information.

If you’re really desperate and you’re willing to go beyond a free cell phone search (i.e., you‘ll fork over some cash), consider either Search Detective or Abika. After a quick search, they’ll tell you if they have the information and will charge around $14.95 for access. Sometimes, this may be the only option when you really, really need to find someone.

However, if your reasons for conducting a free cell phone search are less urgent, and you aren’t having much success with Google or the other search options, perhaps it’s time to ask whether a cell number is really the way to go at all. These days, it might be better to get an e-mail address or an IM handle – cell phones are rapidly become “so last week.”

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