Find Out Who’s Calling You: Be Your Own Detective
Let’s be honest. There are fewer things more annoying than receiving unwanted phone calls, calls with no name attached to the caller ID, hang-ups and even robocalls. Most of us use only mobile phones now, and the prevalence of unknown callers is becoming higher every year. This is mainly because unlike traditional caller ID that provides a name or business with a number, your cell phone won’t recognize it unless it’s a number you already do business with and have saved in your contacts.
The good news is that you’re not totally at the caller’s mercy, though. There are ways to determine who’s calling you without using someone else to play “detective” for you.
Options for Identifying Callers
The most ideal way to find out who’s calling is by using a reverse phone lookup search online, such as that offered by Infotracer. This type of services allows you to simply input the phone number that has called you and it will immediately provide ownership information.
Details included in a report from a reverse phone lookup include:
- Carrier information
- Type of phone (mobile or hardline)
- Location of number
- Owner’s name, address and email
- Social profile links
- Information about criminal records, court documents and even assets connected to that owner
Of course, you can also just call the number back, but this will often result in no information whatsoever, as it may be a line that’s only able to make calls and not receive them. Robocalls also cause a problem with this method because robocalls often trick your caller ID into showing a number that is associated with another person or company altogether, which is also known as “spoofing.”
Robocalls can be reported to your local Attorney General’s office as well as the Federal Communications Commission. However, this process can be lengthy and is even more cumbersome if several different numbers have called you. Your best course of action in the case of repeated robocalls is to make sure your phone number is on the Do Not Call Registry.
You can also contact your phone service provider about options they offer to reduce robocalls and unknown calls. Some will allow you to block unknown callers or those who have blocked their number from ever ringing on your end.
Dangers of Unknown Callers: Scammers
The first and foremost danger of receiving unwanted calls is that the caller is trying to scam you in some way. Many of these callers will try to obtain financial information, account details or even personally identifying information in order to steal your identity or hack your accounts.
If you receive such a phone call, the FCC suggests you hang up immediately. You should also never answer any questions or give the caller information about yourself. If they claim to be calling from the IRS or a company you already do business with and are inquiring about account numbers and other information, hang up and call the company from a number they have on one of your statements to make sure it’s not a scammer impersonating them. Most companies that handle sensitive information will never ask for these details over the phone or online.
Do Not Call List
If you are on the Do Not Call Registry, telemarketers are not allowed to call you if they don’t have existing business with you. In order to legally receive a robocall, you must first give the company consent to call you in this way, otherwise it should be reported.
It’s also possible that someone is simply trying to check up on you, and a series of hang-up calls or no one saying anything on the other line can be unnerving. Doing a reverse phone lookup can help you determine if you need to be concerned and report these calls. Stalkers will frequently call their object of affection, so you need to know if someone is trying to follow you or keep tabs on your activity.
Of course, an unknown caller may also be someone you legitimately know – perhaps an ex-classmate, co-worker or just an old friend wondering if this is your actual phone number. So receiving an unknown call isn’t a reason to freak out immediately, just a reason to proceed with caution. Start by returning the call to see if someone picks up, but remember that robocall companies will spoof actual phone numbers to your caller ID, so just because it showed up on your phone doesn’t mean the actual owner tried to contact you.