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Should You Pick Up? How to Find Out Who’s Calling You

When your phone rings and it’s a number you don’t recognize, or you spot a missed call from an unknown number, it piques your curiosity. But you’re cautious; you don’t want to risk answering or returning the call if it’s from a telemarketer or scammer. Instead of playing robocall roulette, here are a few ways to check who’s calling before you decide to engage.

Legit Call vs. Scam Call: How to Tell the Difference

You’ve probably noticed that scam calls are a big problem in America. Scammers swindled nearly $30 billion from unsuspecting victims in 2021, and unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the issue will disappear anytime soon. When you receive a call, there are a few ways to determine if it’s legitimate or not.

First, take a look at what your phone shows. If the call displays a number and location, that’s a good sign. But if your phone doesn’t show any info and just says “Unknown,” chances are it’s a scammer calling. It’s best to let those calls go to voicemail and call back if it’s someone you recognize. And if your phone labels the call as “Scam Likely,” it’s usually spot-on; you can safely ignore it.

Another thing to watch for is verification. Some carriers now verify phone numbers when you receive a call, and Google’s phone app even adds a badge to incoming calls from businesses it can confirm. However, keep in mind that this doesn’t cover every legitimate business call or filter out those using robocalls.

Be wary of spoofed numbers too. Have you ever seen a call coming from a number that looks like yours, but with a few digits changed? Those are likely spoofed numbers used by scammers to trick you into answering. They hope you’ll be more likely to pick up if you think the call is local or from someone you know.

If you want to quickly find out if a caller is genuine or a scammer, just do a quick web search. For instance, I got a call from an unfamiliar number recently. Instead of dialing back right away, I looked it up online and discovered it was linked to my college’s call center.

However, another number I checked didn’t bring up any reliable information. This hinted that it might be a scam or a robocall. As a general rule, if the search results mainly show reverse phone lookup websites, it’s likely that others have received unwanted calls from that same number and are sharing their experiences to alert others.

Do a Reverse Phone Lookup

When it comes to reverse phone lookups, if you’re keen on digging into a specific phone number, there are plenty of websites that can assist you. Typically, you’d have to shell out some cash to access valuable information, but there are a couple of free tools that can offer some assistance.


At WhoCallsMe, folks can share their encounters with particular phone numbers. Just enter a number, and the website will let you know the origin of the area code. You can then share your own experience or see what others have to say about it.

Spy Dialer

Spy Dialer lets you search for phone numbers, names, addresses, and emails. Just enter a phone number, then decide if you want to check for associated names or photos, listen to the outbound voicemail, or verify if it’s spam. Spy Dialer can provide details about the registered owner of the number, their general location, and whether the number has been flagged as spam previously.

For additional details, click on “Phone Details” to find out how long the line has been active and if the number is spoofed. Opt for “Hear Voicemail” to listen to the caller’s outbound voicemail, if it’s available. You can also click “Report Call” to file a complaint with Spy Dialer.


With PeopleFinders, you can search for a phone number, name, address, or email. Just type in a phone number, and you’ll get details like the caller’s general location, carrier, and phone type. However, if you want more detailed information such as the caller’s full name and address, you’ll need to pay to access it.


You can search for phone numbers, names, and addresses on USPhoneBook, but it’s more effective for identifying individuals rather than businesses. Just enter a number to find the person linked to it. The site will show you a list of people who might be related to that person. You can then label the number as safe or spam. Remember, though, these listings may be outdated.

Click on “Get Details” to see additional information about the person. This will include their age, current (and past) addresses, any other phone numbers associated with them, a list of relatives and associates, and even related email addresses.

What to Do Next

After you’ve looked up the number, what’s next? If it’s a caller you don’t want to hear from anymore, you can block spam callers. But remember, since most spammers use spoofed numbers that keep changing, this method only works if the same number keeps calling. For iPhone users, one option is to send any callers who aren’t in their contacts directly to voicemail, although this might not always be ideal.

A better approach is to explore your mobile carrier’s anti-spam solutions for stopping spam calls and robotexts. Additionally, there are apps like RoboKiller and Truecaller that can help fend off spam callers. You can also report unwanted calls to the FTC and register your number with the National Do Not Call Registry, although those with ill intentions will likely ignore this.

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