CNAM (Caller Name) Lookup: What is it?


CNAM or Caller ID Name is a service used by telecommunication providers that enables the display of a caller’s name on your phone’s screen when you receive a call. This article aims to provide comprehensive information about CNAM, including what it means, how it works, its types, and how to look up locations using CNAM. We will also discuss the importance of CNAM in fighting fraud and provide some pro tips for a better understanding of this technology.

CNAM (Caller Name) Lookup: What is it?

Note: It’s important to mention that CNAM services cannot be uninstalled as they are a part of the telecommunication infrastructure rather than an application on your phone. However, you can disable the caller ID feature on your phone to stop seeing the caller’s information.

What does CNAM Mean?

CNAM stands for Caller ID Name. It is the 15-character string that displays on your phone when you receive a call, usually showing the caller’s name or business.

What is CNAM (Caller ID Name)?

CNAM (Caller ID Name) is a service used by telecommunication companies that enables them to display a caller’s name on your phone screen when you receive a call. This is different from the phone number, which is handled separately.

How does CNAM Work?

CNAM works in the following steps:

Call Initiation

 The originating party makes a call by dialing the recipient’s phone number
 The caller’s telephone exchange, also known as a switch, recognizes that a call has been initiated

Phone Number Transmission

 The caller’s telephone exchange sends the caller’s phone number to the recipient’s telephone exchange through a process known as signalling
 This step is crucial as the receiving switch needs the phone number to know where to direct the incoming call

CNAM Lookup Request

 Upon receiving the phone number, the recipient’s telephone exchange identifies the need for additional information – the name associated with this number
 To retrieve this information, the recipient’s exchange sends a CNAM lookup request, which includes the caller’s phone number, to a CNAM database

Database Search

 The CNAM database receives the lookup request and begins searching its records for the name associated with the provided phone number
 Each phone number in the database has an associated name, typically provided by the phone service provider or third-party CNAM service providers

Response to CNAM Lookup

 Once the associated name is found, the CNAM database sends this information back to the recipient’s telephone exchange
 The response from the CNAM database includes the name that will be displayed on the recipient’s phone

Display Caller Name

 The recipient’s telephone exchange receives the response from the CNAM database and extracts the caller’s name
 The telephone exchange then sends this information to the recipient’s phone
 The recipient’s phone then displays this name on the screen, enabling the recipient to recognize who is calling

Types of CNAM

There are two types of CNAM – basic and enhanced.

 Basic CNAM just displays the caller’s name
 Enhanced CNAM, on the other hand, also provides additional information, such as the caller’s city and state

Who Updates the CNAM Databases?

The CNAM databases are typically updated by telephone service providers or third-party CNAM service providers. They are responsible for maintaining accurate and up-to-date CNAM records.

How Many CNAM Databases Exist?

There are multiple CNAM databases in existence. The actual number can vary, but each telecommunications provider typically maintains their own database. There are also third-party providers that offer CNAM lookup services.

Where is CNAM Available?

CNAM is available in many countries around the world, including the USA. However, its availability can vary depending on the specific regulations and technologies used by individual telephone service providers.

What is the Difference Between Caller ID and CNAM?


Caller ID



Caller ID refers to the phone number that is transmitted and displayed when someone makes a call.

CNAM, short for Caller ID Name, is a service that displays the caller’s name or business name alongside the transmitted phone number.

Information Displayed

Caller ID shows the phone number of the incoming call.

CNAM shows the name of the person or the business associated with the incoming call.


Caller ID is used to identify the source of the call by phone number.

CNAM is used to provide additional information about the source of the call, i.e., the name of the caller or business.

Lookup Process

Caller ID doesn’t require a lookup process as the phone number is directly transmitted from the originating phone.

CNAM requires a lookup process in a CNAM database to find the name associated with the incoming phone number.

Why is CNAM Important?

CNAM is important because it provides recipients with information about who is calling, which can help prevent unwanted calls or fraud. It provides an extra layer of information beyond just the phone number.

How does CNAM Fight Fraud?

CNAM helps fight fraud by allowing users to see the name of the caller before answering the call. This information can help users avoid scam calls. For example, if a call claims to be from a well-known company but the CNAM shows a different name, it can alert the user that the call may be fraudulent.

How can CNAM Find the Location of a Phone?

While CNAM itself cannot find the location of a phone, the Enhanced CNAM service can display the city and state from where the call is coming, providing some location information.

What are Other Ways to Find a Phone’s Location?

While CNAM provides some location information, other methods to find a phone’s location include:

GPS Tracking

 Most smartphones have GPS capabilities which, when enabled, can provide the exact location of the phone
 Applications like Google Maps, Apple’s Find My iPhone, and Android’s Find My Device use this technology to locate a device
 This method requires the GPS on the phone to be turned on and the person or service trying to find the location to have access to the location data

Cell Tower Triangulation

 Every mobile phone communicates with nearby cell towers. By analyzing the signal strength and timing of the signals from multiple cell towers, the phone’s approximate location can be determined
 Law enforcement agencies often use this method. However, it requires specialized knowledge and access to the cell network’s technical data
 Note that this method provides an approximate location, not an exact one

IP Address Tracking

 Every device connected to the internet has an IP (Internet Protocol) address. This IP address can be used to track the general location of the device
 Websites, apps, or services can log the IP address when the phone accesses them, and then use online services to get an approximate geographic location of that IP address
 However, this method doesn’t provide an exact location, and factors like VPN use can alter the visible IP and its associated location

These are some of the common ways to find a phone’s location. Each has its own level of accuracy and requirements for access, making them more or less suitable depending on the specific situation.Top of Form

Pro Tips

1.Pro Tip 1: Be aware that while CNAM can be helpful, it can also be spoofed by fraudsters. Always be cautious and verify unfamiliar numbers independently
2.Pro Tip 2: If you receive unwanted calls, you can use a CNAM lookup tool to identify the caller and report them to your service provider or local authorities
3.Pro Tip 3: Not all calls will have CNAM information. Some calls may display as ‘Unavailable’ or ‘Unknown’. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are fraudulent, but proceed with caution


CNAM is a crucial aspect of telecommunications that provides users with caller identification, enhancing communication transparency and security. Although it is not foolproof and can be susceptible to spoofing, being aware of its functions, strengths, and limitations can assist you in handling incoming calls with increased confidence.


Can I uninstall CNAM?

No, CNAM is not an application that can be uninstalled. It is a service provided by your telecommunications provider.

What is a CNAM lookup?

A CNAM lookup is the process of querying a CNAM database to find the name associated with a phone number.

What is the difference between CNAM and Caller ID?

Caller ID refers to the phone number that is displayed when someone calls you, while CNAM refers to the name or business associated with that number.

How can I disable CNAM?

You cannot disable CNAM directly. However, you can disable the caller ID feature on your phone to stop seeing the caller’s information.

Can CNAM be used to locate a phone?

While CNAM itself does not provide specific location data, Enhanced CNAM can provide the city and state from where the call is originating.