Why You Should Never Answer Unknown/Private Numbers

Why you should never answer unknown numbers

Why You Should Never Answer Unknown/Private Numbers

Ever received a call from someone you didn’t know and thought about picking it up? If so, you’re not alone. But there’s one important thing to remember when considering whether or not to answer unknown numbers/numbers you’re unfamiliar with: it could potentially be dangerous.

With all the scammers out there, and the crazy people running loose (that ex you’re trying to avoid), answering unknown/unfamiliar numbers could negatively affect your finances, privacy, or your safety, because you don’t know who could be on the other end of the line.

This uncertainty is dangerous.

Here are 5 reasons why you should avoid answering unknown calls at all costs:

1. It could be a scammer trying to get personal information or money from you

There are so many scams out there today, too many to count, that if someone is calling you from a private or unknown number, chances are it’s a scammer.

Unknown numbers make it easy for them to remain untraceable. If the number isn’t showing, there’s no way to look them up; if the number is showing, it’s usually a throwaway or spoofed number that’s being used.

What is number spoofing?

Number spoofing is when an unknown caller replaces their number with a different one to hide their identity.

This could be someone pretending to work for your local cable company, or someone trying to convince you they work for your bank. They want it to seem like the call is coming from an official place, in order to get you on the hook.

You, thinking you’re talking to a legit person in a legit company, are more likely to give them your information. The scammer will then use that info – a credit card or social security number – to commit fraud and try to steal your identity or funds.

2. It could be someone you’re avoiding

Smartphones have made it easier than ever to block calls from people we don’t want to speak to. But what happens if the people you’re trying to avoid uses different numbers to contact you from?

Imagine you’ve just had a messy breakup, and you’ve blocked your ex from contacting you. Their regular number might be blocked, sure, but it’s very easy for them to get new numbers and harass you from those.

Now, while some phones do allow you to block calls from all numbers save for those in your “safe” list, there might be important calls from unknown numbers that you might not want to block. In this case, blocking wouldn’t be an effective solution.

3. It could be a debt collector

Debt collectors have several different numbers they use to harass people, and answering one of their calls could spell disaster for you.

In some countries – the UK comes to mind – the statute of limitations on a debt will be reset once they speak to you.

So let’s say you’re a few months from having one of your debts expire. Well the minute you speak to the debt collectors, the debt starts over, meaning another 6-year wait till it gets wiped off your credit report.

4. Someone may have shared your number out of revenge

Hurt people do vindictive things sometimes. If you’ve had a disagreement with someone that turned sour, they might have shared your number in some unpleasant places – online forums, seedy restrooms, you name it.

Thus, you can’t be sure the calls aren’t coming from shady characters who saw your number posted in an equally shady forum. It happens.

5. Just answering calls from certain numbers could cost you dearly

Scammers are getting a lot more sophisticated these days. Not too long ago a scam was uncovered that only involved the victims answering the phone!

You could be called from a foreign number, and the moment you answer, you are charged for staying on the line.

This article from Euro Weekly News describes how the scam works and how easy it is to be hoodwinked by it.

What to do if you get a call from an unknown number

Your first priority is to keep yourself safe. As such, I would advise never answering any numbers you don’t recognize, including the private ones.

Here are 3 tips to keep yourself safe:

  • let the call go to voicemail – if the call is that important, they’ll leave a message
  • do a google search of the number, if it shows up – you’ll usually be able to find others talking about receiving calls from the same number. If it’s a scam, they’ll tell you soon enough
  • don’t EVER call back – this is what many scammers want, as once you do, you’ll be charged insane amounts for every second you spend on the line

Bonus tip

If you’re in the mood for a laugh and you’re on a pay as you go, bill-free mobile plan with nothing to lose, you could have some fun with the scammers.

There are numerous funny YouTube videos of people doing just that. You could put on fake accents and waste their time by making them think they’ve suckered you in.