There are many reasons why someone may choose to block their phone number. From a desire to avoid unwanted telemarketing calls to concerns for your personal safety, blocking your phone number is your right. The problem is, it can be harder than it seems. While there is a National Do Not Call Registry (which was created under President George Bush and upheld by the United States Court of appeals), telemarketers and scammers sometimes find their way around it.
Who Has Your Number?
While your personal phone number should be kept privately, data breaches happen every day. A good way to find out where your number is listed is to run a reverse phone lookup. This will show most names associated with the number, as well as websites that publicly display it.
Understanding the Do Not Call List
Visit the FTC’s (Federal Trade Commission) website to list your number on the do not call registry. It’s as simple as that. But registering does not guarantee that you’ll stop unwanted calls.
- It tells telemarketers who not to call. Scammers who ignore this information may still call you.
- The Do Not Call Registry does not cover: debt collection calls, political calls, survey calls, and “purely informational” calls.
- Companies may call you if you give them written permission to do so. This is not as complicated as it seems. Remember that day in which you filled out the form to enter your supermarket’s raffle? Chances are, you ticked a box permitting them to call you (or it was pre-ticked, and you signed the form without realizing it).
- You can report unwanted calls here. You’ll need numbers and dates.
- The fine for companies that illegally call you for sales purposes can reach up to $42,000 per call.
- Mobile and landlines are treated equally on the registry, but only personal numbers can be registered.
- Reassigned or disconnected numbers are automatically taken off the list. You don’t need to report them.
- Average registered users report up to 30 percent fewer calls.
- No entity is able to remove your phone from the registry.
Most telecommunications providers offer options to block specific numbers, and most smartphones allow you to do so too. You also have the option to block your number from appearing on caller id. To do so, you just need to tap *67 before dialing. Most smartphone settings also offer the option to block hide your caller id.
- Read contracts in-full. Some credit card providers specifically state that they can share or sell your contact details with third parties. Many companies use the fine print to get your permission for telemarketing calls. Pay special attention to deals and promotions (online –ticking online boxes is considered written permission– and offline).
- If your children have mobile phones, manage settings so they can only allow calls from the numbers saved in their contact list. Talk to them about telephone fraud, and tell them to never engage in any conversations with someone they don’t know, regardless of how friendly they may seem.
- Report unwanted calls to the FTC. While they won’t be able to give you an update about your report (they get thousands of them on a daily basis), they will take action.
- Never give personal information during a phone call. Avoid disclosing your bank accounts, passwords, or personal address. Telemarketing fraud is becoming more and more sophisticated, so calls may seem legitimate. Most
- Avoid displaying your personal number on your social media accounts.
- Don’t interact with unwanted callers. The longer you stay on the line, the easier it is for them to get your personal information.
- Educate yourself about consumer rights and understand the obligations of your telecommunications provider.
- Pay attention to signs of phishing and identity theft, which usually include calls from collections agencies.
If you have concerns for your safety, such as trouble with a stalker or phone bully (especially in the case of children), notify your local authorities immediately. They’ll work with you to find a solution fast. Unfortunately, if you continue to get harassment calls, the only solution may be to change your number. This is a fairly easy process; you get to save all your contacts, and notifying them about the change is as easy as sending an SMS. If you have fallen victim of a telemarketing scam, report it immediately to minimize risks.