If you’re a Hollywood fan, you’re probably well accustomed to the picturesque call tracing scene, complete with CIA agent/spies, their drab tuxedos, deep black shades and a fancy line up of high-end technologies. The scenery is very much like a space shuttle command room and if you’re the type to take movie references to heart you probably think it’ll cost a fortune (and most likely a career change to spying) to trace an unknown caller.
Good news is movie references are usually far-fetched. And No, you don’t need to be the next agent 007 to find out whose phone number is calling.
Unknown calls are quite common
It’s always a good idea to know your callers
Not because you need to tone up that sweet sexy voice for your significant other, rather because answering unknown numbers can be particularly dangerous. Eight out of ten times, that unrelenting caller is acting in his/her own interest, and for the most part ‘acting in his/her own interest’ translates to ‘hazardous to your interest.’ Think about it, if someone with genuine intent were trying to reach you, they’d leave a message or voicemail after, say, the third try. Con artists are the ones who call relentlessly and if you do answer, here’s what you’re potentially setting yourself up to;
- Scammers and their deadly money swooping antics
- Telemarketers and their never-ending sales pitches
- That creepy stalker who’s masquerading as your crush
- The now common cases of predatory calling
Picking up a call with any of these mischief makers on the other end of the line is the first scene of your favorite scary movie (in the case of telemarketers, the first scene of The Wolf of wall street). All things said, however, not every unknown caller is a brewer of mischief. Sometimes it might be Aunt Maggie in a new city and with a new number, or the cool dude you gave your number but never expected to call. Rather than play a game of Russian roulette, it’s better to decipher the identity of your unknown caller. How to do this? It’s pretty easy.
Take a long look at the area code
Area codes are one of the most fundamental ways of guess-timating who and more precisely where your caller is calling from. Foreign area codes are a telltale sign that your caller is situated in another country, something that should place you on full scammer alert. Note, however, that some fraudsters have the tools to mimic local area codes from foreign locations, so an area code matching your locality is not a guarantee that you aren’t dealing with a con-artist. Area codes with toll-free prefixes like 855, 888, 800, 866, and 877 are probably your local sales agents and telemarketers trying to sell you the next million-dollar idea that has sadly failed to make them millionaires.
Since almost everyone puts up his/her phone number on Facebook, you can use it as a valid caller directory. Simply type in the unidentified number and see if it pulls up any profiles. The major downside of this method is that some people might mask their identity by disabling this feature on their privacy settings. Fraudsters, scammers and the likes might also use faux Facebook profiles that cloak their real identities. So overall, nice way of uncovering that stalker or unassuming crush, but pretty ineffective for seasoned fraudsters
Identify the number James Bond style
When you want an informed summary of the identity of an unknown caller complete with details of their carrier, your best bet is to perform a caller ID search on a verified cellular registry or database. All that’s needed from you is the caller phone number, type that in and voila, you’re presented with a full synopsis of their identity. It’s pretty much the stuff you see in movies, and there’s the added perk of gaining insight on privileged info like sex offenses, location data, and criminal records.
With this information, it’s safe to assume that you’re well equipped to handle any case of hidden identities. So next time you’re wondering who’s calling me, you know just how to decipher who’s hiding behind that unknown number.