“No caller ID” vs “Unknown caller” and how to stop anonymous calls

“No caller ID” and “unknown caller” are not the same thing. Both will hide the caller’s phone number, but only one does so intentionally. “Unknown caller” means that your phone service provider couldn’t identify the caller due to an error. “No caller ID” shows on your phone when the caller has concealed their number. 

Updated: April 10, 2024

What is “no caller ID?”

No caller ID means the caller has purposely disabled their caller ID so it doesn’t display on your phone. It also means that you won’t be able to call them back. 

“No caller ID” is used by some professions and organizations for privacy reasons. A medical professional may want to use it to ensure they initiate all calls and that patients are not calling them back directly. Government agencies also like to keep their phone numbers anonymous.

However, many “no caller ID” calls are scams where callers hide their numbers to avoid repercussions. It’s best not to pick up unless you’re expecting such a call.

Is there a way to unmask “no caller ID?”

Yes, there is a way to find out what the “no caller ID” number is, and it’s free. The feature allows you to call back the last person who called you. It’ll also provide the number and exact call time, and it even works for hidden phone numbers. 

To find the caller ID, dial *69 immediately after receiving a “no caller ID’ phone call. The service should activate automatically, and an automated voice will tell you the phone number behind the “no caller ID” call. You can write it down, add it to your contact list, and use settings to block it. You can also call them back.

What does “unknown caller” stand for?

“Unknown caller” is different from “no caller ID” because, in this case, the phone carrier cannot identify the unknown caller’s number for technical reasons. In other words, the number hasn’t been purposely blocked by the caller. 

Unknown callers could even be on your contact list but don’t display because your phone service provider fails to identify them. However, most unknown calls should be handled like “no caller ID” calls—it’s best not to pick them up. The caller will leave a voicemail message if it’s important. 

Describe what is the difference between unknown caller and no caller id.

How to stop “unknown caller” calls

While you can easily manage “unknown callers” using settings on your phone, there’s no dedicated setting to stop “no caller ID” calls. Still, you can block or silence them using number-blocking settings on your iOS or Android device. Read on to find out how.

How to stop anonymous calls on your iPhone

There are several ways to stop unknown callers on your iPhone. The first is to silence them, which is possible on iOS 13 and later versions. 

Here’s how to do this:

  1. Go to “settings.”
  2. Scroll down and tap “phone.”
  3. Scroll down and tap “silence unknown callers.”
  4. Toggle on “silence unknown callers”.

This will silence all calls from unknown numbers (those not on your contact list) and send them to voicemail.

Related: How to block No caller ID on iPhone

How to manage anonymous calls: silence unknown1
How to manage anonymous calls: block unknown Android3

How to block unknown calls on your Android phone

Android users cannot silence unknown callers but can block unknown calls. If you select this option, your phone will reject phone calls from any calls marked with “unknown caller.” You’ll still receive calls from callers who are not in your contacts as long as a number is displayed on the screen.

Here’s how to block unknown callers on an Android phone:

  1. Open the “phone” app.
  2. Tap the three vertical dots in the top-right corner.
  3. Tap “settings.”
  4. Tap “block numbers.”
  5. Toggle on “block unknown/private numbers.”
How to manage anonymous calls: silence unknown1-1
How to manage anonymous calls: block unknown

Other ways to manage anonymous calls

Here are some other solutions for you to consider if you’re plagued by anonymous calls. 

Use a third-party app

When all else fails, third-party apps (e.g. TrueCaller) could be a way to unmask a “no caller ID” number. These apps use databases, online platforms, social media, and other sources to gather information. However, like with all apps, you have to be very careful about the permissions you grant. Many apps collect an unnecessarily high number of data points, so it’s best to use these supplementary services as sparingly as possible. 

Contact your phone service provider

Phone service providers often offer features and services to combat anonymous calls. You can reach out to them and inquire about options such as Malicious Caller Identification services (MCID). These services can help identify and block calls from numbers marked as suspicious or known for harassing behavior. 

Register with the National Do Not Call Registry 

It won’t work for scam calls, but you can reduce spam and unwanted calls by registering your number with the National Do Not Call Registry. It’s a free service and will likely reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive. While it won’t eliminate scam calls entirely, it serves as a helpful deterrent against unsolicited calls. Once registered, telemarketers are prohibited from calling your numbers.

How to manage anonymous calls: National Do Not Call


What does it mean when you get a “no caller ID” call?

You get a “no caller ID” call when a caller tries to keep their caller ID secret and their phone number anonymous. Many scam and spam calls come from “no caller ID” numbers so the caller cannot be blocked or reported. 

Is no caller ID someone I blocked?

“No caller ID” does not appear on your phone screen because you blocked a number. However, someone may decide to hide their caller ID to make you pick up the phone once they realize you’ve blocked them. 

Can a no caller ID leave a voicemail?

Yes, a “no caller ID” caller can leave a message on your voicemail like any other caller. 

Why is my iPhone showing “no caller ID” for incoming calls?

Usually, incoming calls with “no caller ID” happen when the caller wants to stay anonymous and is concealing their number on purpose. If all the calls you receive are from “no caller ID,” it’s best to contact your telephone provider, as it may be a technical problem on their side.

What is the difference between “unknown caller” and “no caller ID?”

To recap, what is the difference between the two? Both show no caller information, but for different reasons, let’s break it down.

Display“Unknown caller”“No caller ID”
Phone number visibilityNo phone number displayedNo phone number displayed
Caller’s intentionMay be legitimate but unrecognizedCaller deliberately blocked identity 
Call blockingProactive blocking with phone settingsOnly after the call occurred; proactive blocking is possible with an app 
TracingChallenging to traceChallenging due to intentional masking
Risk of spam or scamModerateHigh
How to reactDo not pick up, let it go to voicemail instead.Do not pick up, let it go to voicemail instead.
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