20th Jun 2017

How to identity nuisance callers and prevent them from calling again

Red cord telephone closeup female hand ending call
Leon Della Bosca

You’ve just been slaving over a hot stove for an hour and you’re about to sit down to a nice dinner when the phone rings. If you’re like me, your first response will most likely be: “Who’s calling me at this hour?” because, let’s face it, everyone should know what time we eat dinner each night. Your second step might be to look at your caller ID to see if you recognise the caller’s number and chances are you’ll have no idea who’s calling.

You might at first think it’s a telemarketer, but what if it’s a loved one with a new number? Or what if it is a call that is actually important? This is a frustration felt by many Australians who receive persistent calls around 7pm. So, how can you find out who is calling? How do you put a stop to it?

Firstly, ensure you’re signed on to the National Do Not Call Register. This won’t stop all telemarketing calls, but it will significantly reduce them.

Your second option is to use a reverse lookup service. Here are a few you can access for free:


To use these services, simply type in the number that’s calling you and they will try to identify the caller for you. It works a lot of the time, but it’s not always successful, as the ID occurs as a result of other people, who have answered nuisance calls, making reports to the service. Some even offer ratings as to how much of a nuisance a caller has been. For example, a telemarketing call from Oxfam may not be considered a nuisance call, whereas a call from some global trading company offering you super-high returns on investments would have a high nuisance rating.

There’s one more trick that can be quite successful. You see, any time you enter your phone details and name on an online form that is not secure, your information leaves a digital footprint which can be tracked.

And here’s a Google trick you can also use to identify unknown numbers:

  • open Google
  • in the search field, type in allintext: (all one word, lower case)
  • key in the unknown phone number within double quotation marks (i.e. “03-555-5555”)
  • your results will be listed in the standard Google search results format.


Now that you’ve identified the caller, you can block them if they’re are a nuisance. Here’s how to do it:

On iPhone:

  • go to ‘Phone’ > ‘Recents’
  • tap on the ‘i’ on the right-hand side of the nuisance number
  • the caller’s information page will open. Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see ‘Block this Caller’
  • tap ‘Block Contact’ and you’re done.


On Android:

  • go to ‘Phone’ > ‘Logs’
  • tap on the number of the caller you wish to block
  • tap on the three dots at the top right-hand side of your screen
  • tap ‘Add to Auto Reject list’ and you’re done.


Now you can eat your dinner in peace and quiet!

Related articles:
How to prevent telemarketer calls
Do Not Call Register now permanent


To make a comment, please register or login
24th Oct 2017
How about when the caller ID screen reads "Private Caller"? Is there any way to stop prank calls from private numbers?
20th Feb 2018
Your phone base probably has the option to block "private" numbers. If it does have this option, you can block these calls.

Unfortunately, it will block all "private" calls -including those from friends who have made their numbers "private".
18th Jan 2018
For calls coming in around lunch and dinner time, I give the caller 2 seconds, after I answer the phone, to announce him/herself and, if s/he has not done so, I immediately hang up. If it's a telemarketer, s/he needs that than that time to pick up the call on his/her computer which is continuously dialing a number of phone numbers.

The best response I have heard if the telemarketer does get through and asks for "Mr Smith" is to ask in a very sad voice "Are you ringing about his funeral?"
12th Apr 2018
How do you block them on a landline phone? How do you identify their number on the landline for a start? I have blocked them on iPhone. All it does is stop the ringing sound. They still call because I have had many calls shown as received by these numbers I have blocked. Now I either don't answer a phone number I don't recognise, I figure if its important the caller will leave a message. They don't because they know you won't ring them back. Sometimes I do answer and fire questions back at them. It puts them right off and they stutter and stammer because you have broken their standardised spiel. Sometimes I just hang up midstream as soon as I hear what they are ringing for. They ring on my parents landline. My parents are in their eighties and don't need to hear this shit. If myself or my siblings are there we answer the phone and give the caller a load of verbal diareohea.
13th Apr 2018
I have not had one since changing to NBN Internode and my l/l is silent -- and private at NO cost
14th Apr 2018
Never, ever think that ACMA will act or even read anything you report. Your dedication to help the cause is simply saved to a data base somewhere, and the AMCA will not advise how or if the information is used. I have reported many scams (phone & email) and I am unable to extract any reply at all apart from the auto generated robotic response. It's a lazy approach & an expense for a service that consists of an automated process to tick some political boxes. Any measure of usefulness or success seems irrelevant. It's easy to see why scammers target us in the country. Just look at the communications ministers (past & present) & it's easy to see the problem is beyond them.

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