You can find lots of free telephone and address information from:
1) “The Internet” (your search engine of choice, e.g. google, bing, yahoo, etc.). If you want to find a telephone number and you have internet access, search the business or agency or person by name, for example: if you want the Washington County (Oregon) Watermaster, type this into your search engine: washingon county oregon watermaster. You’ll get up to date contact info (especially if you make sure you click on your search engine’s link to get the most current info).
2) Your local public library information and quick reference lines during their open hours (e.g. Multnomah County public libraries and Washington County public libraries) and don’t forget L-net, the statewide online reference service).
3) 211 Info, for locating Oregon (and some other state’s) community resources, e.g. social services, elected officials, etc.
4) You can also try the free, online 411 dot com, but I got hilarious results when I tried to find a telephone number for “mayor sam adams.” When I typed — mayor sam adams telephone number — into Google, I got an exact link to the Portland City Hall’s Contact Us website, including the Mayor’s contact info.
An awful lot of online phonebooks and fee-based telephone-finding services seem to be fairly unreliable, or so it seems from those of us on the receiving end of an awful lot of calls from people who say, “but they said this was the correct number!” (I guess the upside of this is the inkling that maybe Big Brother isn’t so hot at finding us, no matter how much we might think we are being tracked.)
I’m cheap and cranky and, unless I absolutely have to, refuse to pay someone to find me a phone number – and I certainly won’t pay for the wrong phone number. I’m sure there may be times when I would be willing to pay, e.g. if I’m trapped somewhere with only a rotary dial telephone and none of the options I list above are available.
Consumer tip: If a fee-based phone-number service gives you a wrong number – let them know! They can issue you a refund. Learn to complain. Without people making legitimate complaints and without marketplace competition, we would all pay a whole lot more for a whole lot less. (If they don’t refund you for their mistake, there are places to report them, from the Oregon Attorney General’s Consumer Helpline to the FTC.)