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What Was On Our Minds? The Top 10 Compass Articles of 2023

Another new year is upon us, and there are several predictable rituals that come with that:  a surge in gym memberships, a raft of holiday-season bills arriving, and of course lots of retrospectives on the previous year.  Being data nerds, it’s no surprise that we at Spokeo have found it interesting to look back at our most-read articles, and see what they have to say about our collective interests and insecurities. 

Here then are our Top 10 Compass articles of 2023, beginning with the most-read.  You’ll see some familiar themes, but also some notable changes from 2022. 

1. How to Track a Phone Number

How many of you first came to Spokeo because you wanted to look up an unknown phone number? Exactly.  This article reviews a few ways you can track down an unidentified phone number, and if necessary use the Spokeo app or a competitor product to screen and block those calls.  It also touches briefly on using the phone number to track the physical phone and its owner, in specific circumstances.  It’s had a slow burn, not making the list at all in 2021 when it was published, then rising to #9 in the 2022 list before hitting the top spot in 2023. 

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2. Modern Survival Skills: How To Check If a Tracking Number Is Real

The rise in online shopping meant a corresponding rise in deliveries, and – sadly – a rise in delivery-related scams as well.  One of the most common involves a phishing text or email, claiming a failed delivery and asking you to click the supplied link to reschedule.  If you do, of course, you’re hooked.  In another scam, fraudulent merchants cough up a tracking number for their shipment, but either it’s completely bogus or stolen from a different, legitimate purchase.  In the article, we explain how to spot these scams.  Clearly it’s a sore point, because this piece got a lot of traffic. 

3. Want to Find Out If Your Partner Is Cheating? Look for These Apps

It’s almost surprising to see this article dip down as far as third place.  It was our top article in 2022 and 2021, and an earlier version of the same piece held down the top spot in our initial year-end roundup back in 2020.  What can we infer from this?  Well, perhaps after the tumultuous pandemic years we’re finally feeling a bit more settled in our relationships.  Or maybe it’s just that nuisance calls and delivery scams were really, really annoying in 2023.  It’ll be interesting to see whether the trend continues, or whether this article remains at or near the top in 2024. 

4. What Can a Cell Number Lookup Find? 

This article makes its first appearance in our Top 10 since it was published in 2021.  That makes sense, because in many ways it’s the cell phone complement to our #1 article.  With so much of what we do online linked to our cell phone numbers, a quick cell number search can tell you a lot about a person.  On the other hand, for those of us concerned about privacy, it’s a good reminder of just how much of our own identity is connected to our phones. 

5. Sometimes Caller ID Lies: Tracing a Spoofed Phone Number

Yup, there’s definitely a recognizable theme emerging; in 2023 we really wanted to know who’s calling.  With the computerization of telephone systems, it became possible for callers to make a false (“spoofed”) number show up on your Caller ID.  There are perfectly legitimate uses for this, but it also opened the door to some very convincing scams.  Tracing a spoofed number is difficult, but by no means impossible. 

6. Tips to Identify 99% of Phone Scams

This is one of two articles from the summer of 2018 to make this year’s Top 10 list, and it’s consistent with what we’ve seen so far.  It’s all about recognizing phone scams when you hear them (or when they arrive in your texts), either through a reverse phone lookup or just by their content and style.  That kind of information is always useful. 

7. Who is Calling Me? How to Tell if a Number is Real

Scam calls come in a lot of different forms, and may or may not come from a spoofed number.  Accordingly, this blog contains a lot of closely related articles, addressing those issues from different perspectives.  Like several of the others on this year’s list, #7 addresses the ongoing challenge of sorting out legitimate calls from the bogus ones. 

8. How To Find Someone’s Cell Phone Number by Name

The big recurring theme in 2023’s list has been searching for a phone number to find out who’s behind it.  But what if you have the opposite problem, of knowing someone’s name but not having their cell phone number? Well, you can do that too by using Spokeo’s Name Search and other tools.  Aside from reconnecting with friends and family, it’s a useful tool for vetting your dating app matches and others you’ll potentially connect with. 

9. Phone Scam Area Codes to Watch Out For

All phone calls, even the scammy ones, have to originate somewhere.  That somewhere will have an area code, and some area codes notoriously are home to more scammers than others.  That’s not to say they’re automatically scam calls if they come from that area code (954 serves Broward County, Florida, for example, home to nearly 2 million people) but a lot of scam calls do originate there for various reasons.  Spokeo’s Phone Reputation Score, part of the information included in a Reverse Phone Lookup, can help you sort them out. 

10. Is He Cheating? How to Find Out

This is the second article from 2018 on this year’s list, making its first-ever appearance in the Top 10.  It’s a brief rundown of the stats on men cheating, the telltale signs that it’s happening, and the steps you can take to find out if it’s happening to you. 

2023 Saw a Shift in Focus from Previous Years

The real fun in these year-end lists lies in comparing them with those from previous years, and searching for meaning in the differences.  Consider infidelity, for example: in 2020 it accounted for just one of the Top 10 (admittedly, the #1 article); in 2021 it swept the top 4 positions; and it also held down 4 spots in the 2022 list.  In 2023?  Just two spots on the list, at #3 and #10, which makes 2023 the first year an infidelity-themed article hasn’t been the most-read. 

Instead, we see 8 of 10 articles on the list revolving around phone scams and phone number lookups.  Does this mean that scams are suddenly more of a concern than they had been during the past few years?  In fairness, articles about scams and phone number searches were well-represented in the three previous years’ lists as well.  Are we more secure in our relationships, or just less paranoid about them now that the stress of the pandemic has subsided? 

This year’s results may prove to be an outlier, or the beginning of a longer-term trend.  The only way to know for sure is to check back next year at this time, and see what 2024’s list says about our state of mind. 

Sources

US Census Bureau: Quickfacts: Broward County, Florida

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