What is Call Privacy?

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  • Written By: Britt Archer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 September 2019
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In today's world, there are a number of options for controlling who can reach an individual via telephone, as well as how and when. The process of controlling these factors falls under a broad category known as call privacy. Call privacy consists of a number of functions and services to stop or ignore calls that the phone’s owner does not want to receive. The availability of these calling features varies on different phones and with different telephone service providers.

One of the most well-known privacy features on phones is caller ID. This function, also known as calling line identification or calling number identification, was first introduced to the public by telephone company BellSouth in December 1988. Caller ID enables the person receiving a telephone call to see the number, and sometimes the name, of the individual who is calling. This enables the recipient of the call to pick up, ignore or send the call to an answering machine or service at their leisure.


There are a number of methods for blocking a telephone number so that it does not display on a caller ID screen. Call blocking is similar in some ways to caller ID. This means that the individual receiving the call is unable to tell who or what number placed the call they are receiving. Certain companies have a series of digits one can call, known as a vertical service code, to identify the call after it is completed. Other companies, particularly cell phone companies, do not offer vertical service codes as a function.

The term call block is also used to refer to a type of call privacy that enables the owner of a telephone to block all or some numbers. A feuding spouse may choose to block his partner's number, for example. A person whose call is being blocked hears a message that states the caller does not wish to receive calls at that time. This type of call blocking is usually enacted or reversed by calling the telephone company directly.

One common use for call privacy functions is to disable or ignore unwanted or unsolicited calls from telemarketing agencies. Within the United States, a national “Do Not Call” registry has been enacted wherein a phone owner can opt to not receive telephone marketing from a number of agencies. This does not stop all unsolicited calls, and the phone owner must be sure to read the privacy policy of each company they give their number to.


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Post 4

@JessicaLynn - I'm not single at the moment, but I wish I knew something like that existed when I was single. Sometimes I would give my number out just because I felt pressured, even if I didn't want to go on a date. Then the guy would blow up my phone for a couple days. I wouldn't answer, but it was still very annoying.

Anyway, call privacy is great, but it kind of cuts both ways when you are the one trying to sell stuff over the phone. My agency's phone number shows up as the name of the agency, so a lot of times people don't pick up when I call! Convenient for them, annoying for me!

Post 3

I get a lot of call privacy from using one of those Internet phone services. You know, when you get a different number, but you can still forward it to your cell phone?

I only give that number out to people who I don't want to hear from. For example, if you get a quote for car insurance online, they'll call you to try to sell it to you if you don't buy. Or if you're looking for an apartment-leasing offices can be pretty persistent. So I give all those kinds of people my Internet phone number.

I have it set so that it doesn't even ring, and a transcript of the voicemail goes to a specific folder in my email. I imagine this would be very convenient for dating too!

Post 2

Having a privacy call blocker service on my phone saved me a lot of angst when I was getting harassed by telemarketers. Once I found out what number they were calling from I was able to block their calls from getting through.

I think that the "do not call lists" that get made don't really do the job they are intended to. I am not sure if it was coincidence or not, but once I put myself on that list I ended up getting way more calls from telemarketers. It made me not even want to answer my phone, as I hate listening to sales pitches for things I don't want.

Post 1

I can understand that phone number privacy is important for a lot of people, but I hate it when all I see is unknown number coming up on my call display. I refuse to answer the phone if I don't know who is calling me. The answering machine I have works just fine if the person wants to reveal their identity to me.

I think that if you are calling just friends there is no reason to block your number from showing up on people's call displays. While protecting our privacy is important, I think phone companies have made it too easy for anyone to hide themselves.

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