Is This Number a Scammer? Here’s How to Check

Key Takeaways

  • Use a search engine to check if a phone number is a scammer. Look out for websites with reports on scam numbers.
  • Bookmark reputable phone number database websites. Use them to search for user reviews and reports on spam numbers.
  • Don’t blindly call back unknown numbers as scammers may try to connect you to premium lines. Use apps or features on your phone to block scam calls.

With scam calls running rampant, it can be hard to tell if a number that called you was legitimate or a scammer trying to steal money from you. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to detect if it was a legitimate call or not worth your time.

How to Check If a Number Is a Scammer

The best way to double-check that a number is a scammer is to type the number into your favorite search engine. This method is useful if your scam blocker catches a number, you accidentally hang up on someone, or you get a call that immediately hangs up on you.

If the phone number is owned by a legitimate company, there’s a good chance it is listed on its website somewhere. Just be sure to check if the website listed is legitimate and not a phony website set up to scam people.

Most of the time, you won’t see a company in the search results. Instead, you’ll see something resembling the screenshot below. This was taken from a PC in the UK, so the results are relevant to numbers calling UK phone numbers; your results will vary depending on your home country.

These scam call websites are lifesavers when identifying potential scammers. If a specific number is making the rounds with a scam, people can file a report that the person calling from that number is a scammer. As the scammer calls more and more people, the number of reports on the websites grows.

Over time, this builds a database of confirmed scam callers you can reference when someone calls you. All you need to do is enter the number, and you’ll see a history of reports based on that number.

How to Identify a Scammer Using a Phone Number Database Website

If you’d rather not gamble with Google, you can always bookmark a well-respected site for future use:

  • 800notes is a good US-based option. Type in the phone number in the “Search” box, and you’ll get user reviews based on experiences with the number.
  • YouMail is a more advanced option for US numbers. You can enter phone numbers to check if they’re a known spammer, see commonly reported spam numbers, and listen to example recordings of scam calls.
  • Who Called Me is a good option for the UK. You can enter a number on the main page, or check the statistics page to see how scammers operate in your area code.

For this example, I’ll be using Who Called Me to check a number. We can see that the number I searched for has a nasty streak of negative reports, a sure sign that the person calling me was a scammer.

The report for a scam number.

It’s worth looking through the public comments to see other people’s personal experiences with the number and better formulate an idea of whether the number is a scam.

Reviews for a scam number.

Because numbers can be unassigned and reassigned, be sure to check the date on which these reports came in. The more recent they are, the more likely it is that the scammer is still using the phone number.

Why Not Just Call the Number Back?

Blindly calling back a number is a very bad idea. There are specific kinds of phone scams where the scammer wants you to phone them back. The scammers depend on people getting curious about who phoned them and calling the number back.

Unfortunately, when the victim does call back, they connect to a premium line that costs a lot of money per minute to call. The scammer tries to keep the victim on the line for as long as possible to maximize their gains. The victim won’t even realize they’ve been paying premium rates until the massive phone bill comes in.

If you’re getting a lot of spam calls, it may be worth checking out ways to block them automatically. While spam calls were once an unstoppable plague, apps like Truecaller can detect and stop spam callers from even ringing your phone.

How to Block Scam Calls on a Smartphone

If you’re getting spam calls on your smartphone, there’s a good chance that it already features some kind of spam call protection. For example, Samsung devices have Smart Call to help protect you from spam, and phones on T-Mobile, Metro, and Sprint will see phone numbers calling as “Spam Likely.”

As such, it’s worth double-checking if your smartphone carrier/manufacturer has added an anti-spam feature on your phone. Do some research on both your phone model and your network provider and see if they have an anti-spam protection service.

If they don’t, or it’s not working as well as you want it to, check out how to block scam phone numbers.

How to Block Scam Calls on a Landline

Blocking scam calls on a landline is a little trickier, but it isn’t impossible. You can contact the company that provides your landline and see what they can offer, and you can purchase a device that detects and blocks spam callers.

Check out how to block nuisance calls on landline phones for more information.

How to Report Scam Calls

If you receive a scam call and want to report it, there are ways to do so. However, the steps depend greatly on where you live, as each country will have different places to report scams.

In the US, you can report scam calls to the Federal Trade Commission. In the UK, you can visit the National Cyber Security Center instead. Whatever route you take, reporting scam calls does help get call centers shut down and helps protect people vulnerable to phone scams.

While calling an unknown number back may be tempting, you may be playing right into a scammer’s hands. Do some research on any unknown numbers and report any bad eggs you may find.

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