Difference Between Private & Blocked Calls

by Kathryn Esplin

The difference between private and blocked calls is easy to recognize. Your phone rings and the Caller ID states: "Private caller." Or, your phone rings and it states: Blocked call. Perhaps you're aren't quite sure what these mean. Fortunately, with cell phones and landline phones, phone carriers follow specific standards when it comes to private calls and blocked calls. There are two types of caller ID blocking: per call and per line.

Private Caller

The phone rings and your caller ID reads: "Private caller." This call is from someone who has elected to keep his phone number private and his number will not display on caller IDs on the outgoing calls he makes. If you get a phone call from such a caller, you will only see "Private Caller" displayed on your caller ID. Likely, you won't even know who's calling you. If you have friends or family who've chosen to keep their number "Private Caller" when your caller ID displays: "Private Call," the caller on the other end might be someone you know. But you will only learn the identity of the caller when you pick up the receiver. Contact your phone carrier if you wish to install "Private Caller" on your line.

Caller ID Blocking-Per-Call

You can choose caller ID blocking-per-call or blocking-per-line. This is a protection for your outgoing calls. You might be a busy professional who wants to prevent your number from displaying on outgoing caller IDs. You might not want your clients or patients to return your calls. Or, you might need protection from certain individuals. If you choose caller ID blocking-per-call, your name and number will not display on the receiving party's phone. Activating caller ID blocking-per-call is a one-time block that blocks your number from displaying to a specific phone number only. This block then becomes deactivated when you hang up. You cannot enable Caller ID blocking-per-call to 911 or 800 numbers.

Caller ID Blocking-by-Line

To prevent your name and number from displaying to all outgoing calls on your line, contact your phone carrier to subscribe to its caller ID blocking-by-line service. When activated, all calls you make to receiving parties will not display your name or phone number. You cannot enable Caller ID blocking by line to 911 or to 800 numbers.

Anonymous Call Rejection

You can reject calls from people who have blocked their number. This service protects you because you shouldn't be forced to pick up the phone when someone on the other end has deliberately blocked their number. With this service, your phone carrier will automatically reject calls from people who intentionally block delivery of their calling name or the number of the calling party. If you wish to block calls from anonymous callers, contact your carrier for more information on how to activate this service.

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About the Author

Kathryn Esplin, a veteran copy editor, wrote for The Globe and Mail, The Montreal Gazette, and copy edited for Addison-Wesley, and several years for IDG. She holds a journalism degree from Medill and a B.A. in English from McGill. A memoir, "Of Things Human, Life, Remarriage, Death" was published in "Blended Families (Social Issues Firsthand)."

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