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Is it legal to find someones phone number online?

There are times when you might need someone’s phone number. There are a wide range of different methods out there that can be used to find their number. While in some cases it can be illegal to post someone’s number online, it is perfectly legal to find someone’s number online. Why is this?



Placement

If someone has placed their number online then obviously it would be legal to find their number. People cannot complain that you found their number at the place where they posted it. Surely that defeats the object of posting it if you do not want people to find it. If someone has posted their phone number in an easy place, like social media for example, then not only is it an easy task to find someone’s number, but it is also quite obviously completely legal.

If their phone number is on a directory, like an electoral register, then this again is a completely legal method to find someone’s number. When signing up to directories like this there is usually a check box that they will fill in that confirms if they want their number to be published or not. In this case if they have filled in the check box confirming that they are okay with their number being published online, then it has to be legal to be able to find someone’s number.

What is not legal

While it is completely legal to find someone’s number online, what you then do with that number could step into illegal territory. If you take their number and use it in a harassing way, then that will most definitely be illegal. So, when you took steps to find someone’s number you did not commit a crime, but the moment you used it for nefarious purposes you stepped over that line. That should be quite easy for most people to understand, but there are so grey areas.

Just because you found the number online does not mean that you can do whatever you like with that number. So, you cannot post that number in a place where the people that find it are likely to misuse it. If you are found to have done this you can be charged. You also cannot sell that number to data harvesting companies. While the steps you took to find someone’s number are not illegal, be careful what you do with the number afterwards, because that might be illegal.