Use Caller ID to know who's calling before you pick up

Caller ID is a very popular calling feature. People like it because with it, you can see the incoming caller's name and number on a digital screen -- before you pick up the receiver. 

Things to know about Caller ID

  • Caller ID is a feature that must be added to your phone line. It is available in most areas and can be purchased for a monthly fee.
  • To use this feature, you need a Caller ID-enabled phone. Or, if you don't have one of those, you can attach a standalone Caller ID box. Either way, you'll see the number, date and time of the incoming calls on the screen of the device you're using. (For specifics, refer to your device's owner's manual.)

How Caller ID works

  1. Within 1 to 2 rings, the phone number of the person calling will show up on your screen.
  2. After seeing the number, you can choose to answer or ignore the caller. 
  3. If you don't pick up, in most cases, the caller's information will automatically be stored in the device's memory. 

What the display messages mean

  • UNKNOWN, UNAVAILABLE or OUT OF AREA means the call doesn't include the necessary data and/or the call is being sent via equipment that doesn't support Caller ID.
  • PRIVATE or ANONYMOUS means the caller has chosen to block his/her line. (You can use Anonymous Call Rejection to reject these kinds of calls.)

Words of warning

Sometimes numbers you see on your Caller ID display might look legit, but always be cautious when answering. "Caller ID spoofing" is a way for companies (and individuals) to conceal their real identities. They do this to appear harmless, to get around Do Not Call laws and/or to trick you into giving up personal information (or money).


For printer-friendly instructions, download the Caller ID user guide. If Caller ID isn't showing what you think it should, we have some ideas about what's happening. To add or change the calling features on your account, chat with us. We're here to help!