Nowadays, unknown calls can make anyone nervous. If you answer them without checking, you could end up dealing with an overzealous salesperson or even someone far more sinister. But if you don’t, you risk missing an emergency call from a loved one or a critical work-related message.
What is the best way to handle a call to avoid such situations? In this article, we answer this question with some useful tips and tricks. But first, let’s understand why being cautious is important when tackling unsolicited calls.
Unknown Callers: Risks and Dangers
Calls from unknown numbers are often a nuisance. Sometimes, they may pose threats to your safety, too.
Here are the common types of calls you may want to avoid.
Based on estimates, around 55% of all calls are spam. These could involve product promotions, subscriptions, surveys, and countless other inquiries that are better left ignored.
- Nuisance calls
Callers who harass you with irritating pranks can become a menace if you don’t handle them effectively.
Phone stalkers can threaten your safety and may also escalate into physical stalking, especially if you entertain their initial advances.
Phone calls are a popular medium for voice phishing, IRS swindles, charity scams, and other data and financial fraud.
What Is the Best Way to Handle a Call From an Unknown Number?
Ignoring the call is the smartest option when you don’t recognize the number. This is particularly important when the incoming number is hidden, seems to originate from overseas, or looks unusual with three to four digits.
If it concerns something important, the caller can leave a voice or text message to let you know who they are and why they had called.
Besides, you can always identify a number’s owner with a reverse number search on Nuwber and then decide whether you want to call them back.
However, this strategy has a few downsides. For instance, let’s say someone calls you to deliver an urgent package. If you let the phone ring and return it hours later, the delivery could get delayed.
Sometimes, during an emergency, a loved one could call you from someone else’s number to ask for help. In such an instance, you could risk their safety if you don’t answer straight away.
Picking up calls is also essential when you are running a business or working for yourself. Remember, when a new client is unable to reach you, you could lose them to one of your competitors.
The bottom line is, avoiding calls from unsaved numbers is not a practical option for some people. If you feel you might be at a disadvantage by doing so, follow the tips below to ensure your safety.
Install Caller ID
Every phone carrier provides caller ID facilities to their customers, either for free or at a nominal fee. This is useful for identifying calls from unknown numbers.
If you want to go a step further, install a caller ID app. These applications have large contact number databases created using their users’ contact lists and other sources.
When you receive a call from an unsaved number, caller ID apps can run it against their databases to identify who is calling in real time.
However, the names they show might not always be accurate or complete since it all depends on how other users have saved them.
Having said that, the popular caller ID apps have a high accuracy rate. They can also identify scam and spam calls based on numbers users have flagged.
Block Unwanted Calls
Spam, scam, nuisance, and threatening calls should be blocked immediately to prevent callers from reaching you again. This could help deter further advances.
Once you select the relevant number on your call log, you can find the Blacklisting option by clicking the two dots on the top right-hand corner of the screen. The exact place this is displayed could depend on your phone model and operating system.
Another important step is registering your number with the National Do Not Call Registry. It is a database maintained by the FTC to prevent telemarketers from reaching registered users.
Avoid Unsolicited Automated Instructions
This mainly has to do with robocalls. While some of them, such as those from medical service providers, could be useful, many automated calls are either spam or fraudulent in nature.
They could, for instance, collect your personal information or record your voice responses to use them in deceptive activities.
If you sense you have received such a call, it is best to hang up. Never follow automated instructions or accommodate voice prompts.
Verify Before You Respond
Some scam callers could be pretty convincing, making it difficult to separate genuine calls from fraud.
When in doubt,
- Listen intently and pay close attention to what the caller is saying. Ask questions to clarify any unclear areas and note down all the information.
- Never give out personal data, perform monetary transactions, or take any other action in haste.
- Tell the caller that you will call back and hang up. If they appear to represent an organization you are already familiar with, call them back using the general hotline or a number you have saved earlier.
- When you don’t recognize the caller or the organization they are from, research it online to verify the information provided.
Report When Necessary
Alert law enforcement officers if you are harassed by nuisance or threatening calls.
When it comes to telemarketing, spam, robocalls, and scams, complaining to the FTC is essential.
The Federal Communications Commission is another government organization to keep informed about unwanted calls.
Calls from unknown numbers are not just spammy. They can risk your safety, too.
How you handle them could deter the callers or make things worse. Therefore, knowing the best approaches to tackle them effectively is critical for deterring unsolicited advances.
While ignoring calls from numbers you don’t recognize is always prudent, it might not be a practical solution for everyone. If you must answer calls, whether or not you know who is calling, activate caller ID to improve your chances of identifying unsaved numbers.
If the call seems suspicious or spammy, immediately hang up and block it. In addition, avoid unwanted automated calls and never follow their prompts.
When unsure of a caller’s authenticity, tread cautiously and verify before responding. Reporting spam and scam calls is also crucial for curbing potential threats.