8 reasons to pick up calls from unknown numbers

Diane Balogh profile image January 13, 2022 | 2 min read

If you’re like me, you probably don’t answer your phone unless you recognize the caller. I figure if it’s important, an unknown caller will leave a voicemail message I can check when I have time.

We all have our reasons why we don’t always pick up. I’m tired of the calls from survey companies and telemarketers. My mother-in-law fears fraudsters after getting a call for bail; thankfully she smelled a rat because nobody calls her “Grandma.” Others ignore calls they suspect are work related if they come in after working hours. And some take the FCC’s consumer advice to combat robocalls and spoofing by letting calls from unknown numbers go to voicemail.

Eight scenarios to consider

While all these reasons sound valid, there are times you might regret not picking up immediately. Consider these eight scenarios:

  1. Your child dropped their phone in the lake and borrowed a friend’s phone to let you know they’re ready to be picked up.
  2. A hospital receptionist is trying to reach you because your significant other is unconscious and being evaluated in the ER.
  3. A sympathetic traveler noticed you left your backpack in the airport bathroom and is trying to catch you before you board a connecting flight.
  4. You applied for your dream job and the recruiter wants to set up an interview later today.
  5. A radiologist is calling to tell you your lung scan is all clear.
  6. At your local home show, you filled out the winning raffle ticket for a hot tub and only have 15 minutes to respond to their call before they select another ticket.
  7. A contact tracer wants you to quarantine because someone in your circle tested positive for COVID-19.
  8. A neighbor spotted your beagle sneaking through a hole in your fence in hot pursuit of a squirrel.
  9. mobile phone displaying that a call is coming from an unknown number

Guidelines to manage calls

So, should you feel compelled to pick up every call or can you strike a happy medium? Here are some guidelines to consider:

* Check to see if your provider has a caller ID that will identify all callers by name as well as number, not just those in your contact list.

* Hang up if you get a pre-recorded message or nobody replies immediately. A delay is a telltale sign the call is being transferred to an available telemarketer. 

* Make sure your phone service provider has a robust robocaller filter to delete nuisance calls before they even ring on your phone.

* Answer all calls except when the caller ID reads something like “No Caller ID,” “Anonymous,” “Blocked,” “Private” or “Unknown Caller,” which indicates that the caller is purposely hiding their phone number. Keep in mind that some professionals, like on-call doctors returning calls from home, may block their numbers for privacy reasons.

* Let all calls you can’t identify go straight to voicemail but make a habit of checking your voicemail ASAP.

Whatever strategies you choose, remember you are in control. So, if a caller you don’t want to speak to slips through, don’t feel guilty interrupting them to say you’re not interested and hang up. After all, they barged in on your life unannounced.