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“No caller ID” vs. “unknown caller”: All you need to know

If an “unknown caller” label appears on your phone screen during an incoming call, your phone service provider couldn’t identify the caller due to a network error. Meanwhile, receiving a “no caller ID” call means that the caller has intentionally hidden their identity. While these incoming calls typically come from legitimate callers hiding their identity for privacy, some may come from scammers or telemarketers. Read the article to find out about the dangers of answering unknown calls and how to find out the unknown caller’s phone number.

“No caller ID” vs. “unknown caller”: All you need to know

What does “unknown caller” mean?

“Unknown caller” may appear on your phone screen when you receive a call, it means that network issues have been preventing caller ID information from reaching your device. This might happen even if the unknown caller is in your contact list — the phone service provider simply cannot identify who is trying to contact you.

“Unknown caller” may also appear on your phone during an incoming call if someone is trying to reach you from abroad. Your phone service provider may not recognize a foreign caller ID due to differences in telecommunication systems.

If you’re not expecting a call from an unknown number, it’s best not to answer. Someone who needs to contact you will send a message. Just ensure you have enough space in your voicemail box for it.

What is “no caller ID”?

If you see “no caller ID” when receiving a call, it means that the caller has hidden their phone number for personal reasons or the nature of their work. Individuals and organizations sometimes hide their IDs to remain anonymous and control how others use their contact information. For example, fundraisers or telemarketers hide their phone numbers to prevent return calls.

While “no caller ID” may come from legitimate callers, scammers or stalkers use this function to conceal their identity when carrying out malicious deeds. It allows them to target large numbers of phone numbers without being detected and facing legal consequences. A hidden number can also provoke unsuspecting people to answer out of curiosity, which aids deceptive scammers’ practices.

Differences between “unknown caller” and “no caller ID”

Now that you’re aware of what “unknown caller” and “no caller ID” mean, let’s look at the differences between the two:

Unknown callerNo caller ID
DefinitionPhone service provider doesn’t transmit the caller’s information.The caller hides their phone number intentionally.
CauseTechnical issues, international calls, or system limitations.A result of the caller blocking their ID on purpose.
UsageTypically unintentional, resulting from various network or system-related factors.Usually intentional, used for privacy or anonymity.
FrequencyCommon with calls from different network carriers or countries.Common in personal privacy scenarios or business contexts.
Caller’s intentDoesn’t necessarily indicate that the caller wants to hide their identity.Shows a clear intent to remain anonymous.
Recipient’s actionCan be a concern, but can also be harmless, for example calls from unknown but legitimate sources.Often seen as suspicious because of intentional identity blocking.

How to manage anonymous calls

Unless you’re waiting for an unknown call, don’t answer those showing as “unknown caller” or “no caller ID.” While some of these calls may come from legitimate callers, others may come from scammers. Follow the tips below to manage anonymous calls:

  • Ask your phone service provider to block calls from telemarketers. Some phone service providers have “Do not call” lists and allow their customers to block unwanted calls from telemarketers. However, this will not protect you from scam calls.
  • Report and block spam calls. Reporting spam calls will block the scammer’s number on your phone and prevent them from reaching others with the same malicious strategy.
  • Avoid sharing your number. Your phone number is personal and meant for trusted contacts only. Never display it publicly.
  • Don’t trust “calls from the government.” Sometimes, scammers pretend to be government officers, asking you to pay false fines or disclose personal information. Never reveal any of your personal information via phone call.

You can also silence these calls on your phone so they don’t disturb you. However, this trick doesn’t block unknown callers.

Unfortunately, the “Silence unknown callers” feature is only available on iPhones:

  1. Open “Settings.”
  2. Tap “Phone.”
  3. Tap “Silence unknown callers.”
  4. Switch the toggle button.

How to block “no caller ID” phone calls

While the iPhone allows you to silence unknown callers, Android users can block them. Set your Android phone to reject anonymous calls:

  1. Open the Phone app.
  2. Tap on the three dots in the top-right corner.
  3. Tap “Block numbers.”
  4. Toggle on the switch next to “Block unknown/private numbers.”

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