What Is a Restricted Call? What You Need to Know

Last Updated: July 10, 2023By
Unknown call on phone

Restricted calls have become a common part of our telecommunications experience. But what exactly is a restricted call? This question can often lead to a myriad of assumptions, misconceptions, and even fears.

This blog post aims to shed light on the subject, providing clear, concise, and accurate information about what a restricted call is, why some people use them, and how they can affect you. We will delve into the nuts and bolts of the technology behind restricted calls, as well as how you can identify and handle them.

By the end of this article, you should have a comprehensive understanding of restricted calls and feel more confident in dealing with them.

Whether you’re a frequent recipient of such calls, or simply curious about this facet of telecommunication, this guide is designed to equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to navigate the world of restricted calls.

Understanding Restricted Calls

A restricted call occurs when the caller deliberately chooses to hide their phone number or identity from the recipient. In most cases, the caller does this by altering their caller ID settings, often using a special code before dialing the number.

Instead of the caller’s actual number or name, the receiver sees terms such as “Restricted,” “Private,” or “Unknown” on their screen.

How Restricted Calls Are Created

Creating a restricted call is relatively straightforward. Most carriers allow their users to block their caller ID by dialing a certain prefix before the number they wish to call. 

In North America, for instance, dialing *67 before the phone number will block the caller ID. This results in a restricted call.

It’s important to note that the exact method of creating a restricted call can vary based on the service provider and the region. Some smartphone operating systems also have settings that allow users to block their caller ID for all outgoing calls.

The Technology Behind Restricted Calls

The primary technology that makes restricted calls possible is caller ID, a telecommunication service that transmits a caller’s number to the called party’s telephone equipment. When a call is placed, the caller’s information is transmitted between the first and second ring.

In a restricted call, the caller’s information is intentionally blocked. This blocking can be achieved through specific dialing codes, as mentioned earlier, or through services provided by the telephone company or third-party apps that can mask the caller’s number.

Why Do People Use Restricted Calls?

Different individuals and organizations use restricted calls for varied reasons. To fully comprehend the implications of receiving a restricted call, we must first explore the motives behind making such calls.

Anonymity and Privacy

The most common reason for using restricted calls is the desire for anonymity or privacy. People may not want to share their phone numbers in certain situations due to personal reasons or professional obligations.

For instance, an individual might make a restricted call when contacting a stranger from a classified ad, or a journalist might do so when speaking with a confidential source.

Business Purposes

Many businesses use restricted calls to maintain professional boundaries and prevent personal contact outside of work hours. For example, medical professionals often make restricted calls to patients to protect their private numbers.

Companies might also restrict their calls when contacting potential clients or customers to avoid the possibility of their number being marked as spam.

Scams and Telemarketing

Unfortunately, restricted calls are not always used for noble purposes. Some telemarketers and scammers use this feature to mask their identity and evade detection.

By hiding their numbers, they increase the chances of the call being answered. Moreover, this makes it more difficult for the recipient to block or report them, thus enabling their unsolicited or fraudulent activities.

Risks Associated with Restricted Calls

Despite the legitimate uses of restricted calls, they do not come without potential risks. From scams to privacy invasion and unsolicited marketing, restricted calls can present several challenges.

Scams and Fraudulent Activities

One of the significant risks associated with restricted calls is their frequent use in scams and fraudulent activities. Unscrupulous individuals often hide their numbers to avoid being traced or reported.

They may attempt various scams, from impersonating government officials to fabricating emergency situations, all in an attempt to trick the recipient into providing sensitive personal information or money.

Invasion of Privacy

Restricted calls can potentially invade your privacy. Anonymity can embolden some callers to indulge in inappropriate or harassing behavior.

They may make repeated calls, leave unwanted voicemails, or even indulge in phone stalking, relying on their hidden identity to avoid consequences.

Unsolicited Marketing

Telemarketers sometimes use restricted calls to dodge call-blocking and spam-detection tools. While not all telemarketing calls are scams, they can still be a significant nuisance, particularly if they’re frequent or occur at inconvenient times. 

Plus, without a visible caller ID, it’s harder to report or directly block these nuisance callers.

In the face of these potential risks, it’s important to be vigilant when receiving restricted calls. Avoid providing personal information over the phone unless you’re sure of the caller’s identity and intentions. 

How to Handle Restricted Calls

Knowing the possible risks associated with restricted calls, it’s essential to understand how to effectively manage them. This involves everything from basic cautionary measures to advanced steps such as call blocking and reporting.

Tips on How to Deal with Restricted Calls

When dealing with restricted calls, there are several approaches you can adopt. First, if you don’t recognize the number or if it’s marked as ‘Restricted’, ‘Private’, or ‘Unknown’, you can simply choose not to answer.

If it’s a legitimate call, the caller will likely leave a voicemail.

Second, never provide personal information over the phone, particularly if you are uncertain about the caller’s identity. Scammers often pose as representatives from reputable organizations to deceive people into sharing sensitive details.

Finally, trust your instincts. If a call seems suspicious or makes you uncomfortable, it’s better to hang up.

Blocking Restricted Calls

If you’re frequently bothered by restricted calls, you can take steps to block them. Many smartphones have settings that allow you to block anonymous calls. Alternatively, you can contact your service provider for assistance.

Several third-party apps also offer call-blocking services. They can detect and block restricted calls, as well as provide additional features such as reporting tools and databases of known scam numbers.

Reporting Restricted Calls to Authorities

If you suspect a restricted call is part of a scam or is being used for harassment, it’s important to report it. You can report these calls to your local law enforcement agency or to your phone company.

In the U.S., you can also report the call to the Federal Trade Commission. They have online tools that allow you to report unwanted calls.


Restricted calls, marked by anonymity and hidden caller ID, serve as a double-edged sword in our communication landscape. While they can be a valuable tool for maintaining privacy in specific circumstances, their misuse, particularly for scams and unsolicited marketing, can cause considerable nuisance.

Understanding what restricted calls are, why people use them, and the potential risks associated with them, equips us with the knowledge to handle these calls wisely. As we’ve discussed, there are several strategies to manage restricted calls, from employing simple caution to using call-blocking tools and reporting suspicious activities to authorities.

While technology continues to evolve, offering newer methods of communication, the basics remain the same – awareness, caution, and informed action can significantly enhance our communication experience.

This exploration of restricted calls also highlights the broader theme of balancing privacy with safety in our increasingly connected world. As we continue to explore this balance, it’s clear that each one of us plays a vital role in fostering a safer and more respectful communication environment.