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Tech tips

Find out who’s calling you from an unknown or blocked number

Scam and spam calls are more and more common these days. And they’re getting hard not to answer because the number comes up as “unknown.” When this happens, people can’t be sure if it’s a spam caller or an important call they’ve been waiting for from a doctor’s office or even their kids’ school.

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 the spam callers if their numbers don’t appear. Tap or click here to see what the most popular phone carriers are doing about spam calls from robocallers.

Fortunately, there are ways to find out who’s calling you from an unknown or blocked number. Prevent spam and scam callers from being anonymous with a few of these tricks, starting with a few simple tracing techniques.

Star 69

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 even 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.

RELATED: Tap or click here for 3 ways to block unwanted robocalls.

Calling *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. If you believe a scam or spam caller is really harassing you, this is the number to use. *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.

You’re also meant to call the police right after a *57 call with a written log of the calls from your harasser so police can act. If you feel an anonymous caller is contacting you too often, it’s worth using this number; otherwise, stick with *69.

Note: Many phone companies charge extra for *69 and *57 calls, so don’t be surprised to see a few extra charges on your bill if you use them. Also, not every phone company provides these services. Check with yours to see if it does.

Contact your phone provider

We just mentioned calling your phone provider to see if they offer call tracing codes. If they don’t, or if you need help with a consistent spammer, you can call your provider directly for caller ID services.

You can also ask for Anonymous Caller ID on a particular caller. This can help you ID spammers and let you block them on your own if you don’t want to pay for a subscription. Tap or click here to see how the top carriers are fighting robocallers.

When inquiring about your carrier’s services and pricing, remember there are also third-party apps you can utilize.

Get an app

There’s an app for everything, including identifying unknown or blocked numbers as they come to your phone. One of the most popular is TrapCall. This app is available for both iOS and Android devices.

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.

And fake numbers aren’t a problem, either. TrapCall forces callers to ID 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 a month 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 is in compliance with your state’s laws. The warning is not mandatory.

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

For all those unknown callers

The goal of identifying unknown phone numbers is to block the ones 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:

  1. Go to Settings, then Phone.
  2. Scroll down to the Call Silencing and Blocked Contacts heading.
  3. Turn the Silence Unknown Callers switch to its on position.

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

  1. Open the Phone app, and tap the More icon at the bottom of the screen — it’s the one that’s three verticle dots.
  2. Tap on Settings, then Call blocking.
  3. 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. Tap or click here for information regarding the Anti-robocall law.

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

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