Can someone explain to me why restricting your phone number is allowed?

I have a friend who has received 2 threatening phone calls from a restricted number.

He’s been to the police, who took a report but said they can’t do anything else.

He’s called the phone company, who also say they can’t do anything.

Can someone explain why the restricting feature is allowed? What possible benefit does it give, other than harassing calls?

Has anyone here restricted their number for a valid reason?

I used it years ago when a person would leave a number asking to call them and not identifying themselves. I did not need a sales person verifying that they had a person at my number and that they should now harass me daily. Now that Wisconsin has the do not call list and the internet has reverse look up services I don’t bother.

Why is wanting the callee not to know who the caller is not a valid reason? Using the phone system doesn’t automatically mean you give your right to privacy.

I don’t understand that attitude. If you’re initiating a phone call, then it should be expected that the person receiving the call should have the right to know who you are/your number.

Perhaps, but intruding into others’ lives rather does mean you should eschew privacy. Or do you knock on people’s doors wearing a ski mask?

When you answer, ask who they are. If you’re not satisfied with the answer, hang up. Or, just don’t answer withheld numbers. Also, don’t forget that not that long ago, no-one would’ve known who was calling when the phone rang, and people seem to have survived.

Isn’t there a way to block blocked numbers? Yes. *77.

That was before telemarketing was so dadblasted big. When people called your number, you pretty much knew they were a friend. But, even if that weren’t true, the fact that we made an exception for phone calls before does not mean we have to keep it now that technology has caught up.

There really is rarely any reason to hide your identity before the phone rings. If you are someone I want to talk to, I’ll know who you are anyways within two seconds. And if you withhold your name or number, we do not answer.

BTW, you can still trace a call, even if they block it from Caller ID. The phone company themselves know the number–they have to. Every phone service I’ve ever had has had a function where you can report a harrassing call, and it will go to the authorities–with not only the number, but the name and address on the account. The police’s hands should not be tied.

It preserves confidentiality of the service if other people are possibly checking phone calls, so they cant call them back to check who it was.

eg parenting clinic, domestic violence service, etc.


For many years, there was no way of knowing who was on the other end of the phone until you answered it, and you only knew where they were calling from if they told you. It’s not a universal standard that people have Caller ID or that people need to make their information known to it.

I’ve run into this recently with my current freelance client. She works in education and frequently has to call students’ homes from her home, in the evenings. Consequently, she has a blocked (and unlisted) number. Otherwise, any student who disliked the report that she had for their parents could get her number from the caller ID and harass her endlessly.

We also have a blocked (and unlisted) number, as a holdover from my mother’s time in home health care. There was a number for people to reach her but it wasn’t our home number, even though it forwarded to it. That way, when my mother was off the clock the clients who “liked her better” couldn’t call her to badger with questions or beg her to come because they hated the nurse assigned to them that day.

We know people who won’t answer blocked numbers, so we unblock before we call them, it’s an extra three buttons to press, no big deal. If other people won’t answer, so be it. We don’t answer every call we get, either. That’s what voicemail is for.


He has said that both the Police and the phone company will not help.

I suggested he try Hopefully that will help him out.

My veterinarian uses an answering service to respond to after hours emergencies. It is a fantastic service that she offers. However, she does not want anyone to have her private, unlisted number. The answering service takes my number and notifies her about my situation. They warn me that her return call will have caller ID blocked.

Works for me.

No, I don’t think you should have that right. You don’t have to pick up the call if you don’t want to, or you can use technology to block calls like that. But I don’t feel that I’ve agreed to let you know information about me by placing a call.

Suppose you have been abused by your spouse and you have fled to a safe shelter. You need to use the phone to talk to your spouse or to your spouse’s lawyer. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want anyone to track you down via your phone number.

Thanks for the replies. I hadn’t thought about a teacher or other professional not wanting their number out there. But, if no one could block their number, then wouldn’t that cut the number of prank calls, in that people would be less likely to do so if anyone could find them out?

Frankly, for a regular caller to want their number blocked seems too much like tinfoil hat territory.

That’s truly odd, because it’s not the case around here. (I’m a Verizon customer in the Philadelphia suburbs.)

We had a strange “I know where you live, and I’m watching you” call a couple of years back. When I called the police to report it, they told me to hang up the phone, dial *57 and then hang up the phone again. Apparently that sequence flagged my last incoming call as abusive. Verizon had to send me a form to sign before they could release that number to the police first, but that was it.

I never heard what happened after that, but then I never asked.

(here’s a current list of Verizon FIOS star codes, from the Verizon website.)

We now have caller ID, and we don’t answer any calls for which the calling number is unavailable. The answering machine gets them, so you can still leave us a message about your wonderful refinancing offer, but that’s as far as our interaction goes.

There is a difference between having the ability to help but declining to help vs. not having the ability to help and not helping.

Both the police and the phone company have the ability to help and identify the caller. It’s up to you to force the issue with them.

No idea whether it applies to other phone services elsewhere in Canada/USA, but at least for Telus, Call Screen (*60) will let you block a particular number even if the person calling from that number used *67 to block call display by using the “Block last number” function. That only helps if it is a blocked call rather than an “Unknown number” call though.

Regarding the phone company always being able to tell, I would have agreed with that up until recently, but with the prevalence of VOIP calls and number spoofing, is that really still the case or would *57 just get you back as far as the VOIP service and then you’d need to subpoena the VOIP service providers logs?

IME many medical professionals block or unlist their phone numbers to avoid having patients call them at home. My FIL is a hospital-based psychiatrist and his name is very easy to remember since it’s rather unique. When he first started working, before unlisting his number, he’d get frequent calls from his strung out ER patients trying to convince him to prescribe more painkillers.

If patients want to reach him now they mustgo through the hospital, who will page him.

So that my idiot landlord will pick up the phone. Naturally, being the idiot that he is, he has yet to catch on.