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How to find out who’s calling you from an unknown or blocked number

Scam and spam calls are getting more common. And they’re hard not to answer because the number comes up as “unknown.” When there’s no caller ID number, you can’t be sure if it’s a spam caller or an important call you’ve been waiting for.

If you’re anticipating a job offer or a call from a client, not knowing who’s calling can make this situation worse. Plus, you can’t block spam callers if their numbers don’t appear. Tap or click here to see what the most popular phone carriers do about spam calls from robocallers.

Fortunately, there are ways to find out who’s calling you from an unknown or blocked number. We put together this helpful guide on finding an unknown caller number. (If you’ve ever found yourself asking, “What does unknown caller mean?” or “How to block unknown calls on iPhone?” we’ll explain that, too.) Prevent spam and scam callers from being anonymous with a few of these tricks, starting with a few simple tracing techniques.

Star 69

Unwanted calls can be so frustrating. You’ll find yourself typing something like “no caller ID how to find out who called” or “how to find out no caller ID” into the search bar to get answers.

That can take a long time, though. When mysterious phone calls clutter your call log, this phone number lookup trick helps you identify the unknown number calling your device. Follow these steps, and you won’t have to grimace when you look down at your phone and see that unknown number.

Concerned woman on phone
Spam calls are becoming more common.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

You may have heard of or used *67 to conceal your number from someone you called. Did you know there are similar numbers you can dial to respond to these anonymous callers?

The first one is *69, which traces the number of the last person who called you. It works even for anonymous or hidden calls, so you can get the phone number and the exact time they called.

Once you have that hidden phone number, you can block it on your phone, so it can’t call you anymore.

Dialing *69 may also provide you with the option to call a number back right then and there, so if you want to confront a scam or spam caller, you can. But don’t expect to get any information from them or be removed from their list.

Another number you can use to trace a call is *57. This is the number to use if you believe a scam or spam caller is harassing you. *57 gets you the phone number and call information *69 does, but it goes above and beyond.

When you dial *57, the information you obtain is passed along to the police. Your phone service will log a *57 call in a special way, so authorities can more easily locate whoever is harassing you and arrest them.

It tells you the number of anonymous calls in real time and can automatically block spam for you. It does notify you when it blocks a call, just in case you want to call back. But you can create a blacklist, and when they call, the app plays a message claiming your number was disconnected.

Cell phone
Hidden phone numbers can leave you vulnerable to scammers.
Getty Images

And fake numbers aren’t a problem, either. TrapCall forces callers to identify themselves before letting their calls go through. Get your first week of TrapCall free. Then it’s $3.95 a month for a single user or $7.95 for the premium package.

The premium package allows you to record incoming calls and the option to play a warning message to make sure whatever you do complies with your state’s laws. The warning is not mandatory.

There are other caller ID apps out there, as well, like Truecaller. Tap or click here to learn more about Truecaller.

For all those unknown callers

The goal of identifying unknown phone numbers is to block those you don’t want to speak to. If you have an iPhone, you can take a more extreme step and automatically block numbers that aren’t in your Contacts list.

This feature is called Silence Unknown Callers. Calls from numbers not in your Contacts will still go to your voicemail and appear in your recent calls list, but your phone won’t ring for them.

If you get a lot of unknown calls, this might be the feature for you. Just follow these steps to turn it on:

  • Go to Settings, then Phone.
  • Scroll down to the Silence Unknown Callers heading and select it.
  • Slide the toggle next to Silence Unknown Callers to the right to enable the feature.

A similar feature exists on the Samsung Galaxy. To activate that:

  • Open the Phone app, and tap the More icon at the bottom of the screen — it’s the one that’s three verticle dots.
  • Tap on Settings, then Call blocking.
  • Turn the Block anonymous calls switch to on.

If you have another type of Android, you can download the Should I Answer? app for a version of the Silence Unknown Callers feature.

Learning who is calling you anonymously can save you the headache and potential exploitation of spam and scam calls. 

Whether you have iOS or Android, use any of the above methods to ID hidden phone numbers and block them. Or block unknown numbers altogether. Whatever your method, you’ll be keeping yourself safe — and sparing yourself some annoyance — which is 100% worth the effort.

Bonus: How to tell if it’s a spam number

An easy way to find out is to Google the number. It’s kind of like a reverse image search.

By inputting the phone number into the search bar, you may see that it has been reported before. People on forums will often share stories about scammy calls, posting the scammers’ numbers for all the world to see.

If your Google search leads you to a forum of people discussing spammers, that’s a red flag. However, if the number shows up on a company website, that means the phone number may be from a legitimate company.

Notice that we said it may be from a legitimate company. Remember, caller ID spoofing is a huge problem. If a number calling you turns out to be from a company, that doesn’t necessarily mean the company itself is calling you.

It could be a clever criminal in disguise. For example, in 2020, phone scammers spoofed Apple’s actual support number to trick iPhone owners into thinking there was a data breach. Tap or click here to protect yourself against phone phishing scams.

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