Tech smarts: How to tell if someone blocked your calls

In the time of quarantine and social distancing, our phones keep us connected to the people we care about.

Of course, annoying, spam and robocallers get through, too. Luckily, there are steps you can take to stop at least some of the junk. You’ll find proven apps and steps to saying goodbye to robocalls forever in my how-to guide.

Phone calls aren’t the only way we’re staying in touch. Is your schedule loaded with video meetings, too? I put together 11 Zoom tricks you’ll wish you knew a few months ago.

What happens you try to reach someone and there’s radio silence? Maybe the person’s phone is dead or on silent. Or maybe they blocked your number. You won’t get any sort of official notice if someone blocks your calls — but you can make an educated guess by looking for these signs.

All you hear is silence

When you block a number, you no longer receive calls or text messages from that person. This can be helpful for stopping some unwanted spam calls, but it can also be used for personal reasons.

The first indication something’s up is you are calling and sending text messages, but you get no response. There are many reasons this might be happening, but a blocked number is one possibility.

For most cases, texts you send will appear to go through normally, but the person you’re sending them to won’t receive them. That silence is your first hint something might be up.

TECH SMARTS IN YOUR INBOX: The tech world changes by the minute. Keep up with The Current, my smart, funny (and ad-free) newsletter. Tap or click here to try it.

Count the rings before voicemail

If you call a phone and hear the normal number of rings before getting sent to voicemail, then it’s a normal call. If you’re blocked, you would only hear a single ring before being diverted to voicemail.

An unusual ring pattern doesn’t necessarily mean your number is blocked. It may just mean the person is talking to someone else at the same time you’re calling, has the phone off or sent the call directly to voicemail. Try again later. If the one-ring and straight-to-voicemail pattern persists, then it may be a case of a blocked number.

PROTECT YOUR PRIVACY: For one reason or another, you might want to make calls anonymously. Here are five ways to block your number, from *67 to features built into your smartphone.

Automated responses

If you make a call and receive an automated message along the lines of “the customer is unavailable,” then you may have been blocked by that person’s wireless carrier. The messages can vary, but the result is the same. Your call won’t go through.

A blocked number isn’t the only reason for a message like this, but it can be a strong indication if you keep receiving the same message over several days.

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It could be something else

Even if you suspect your number is blocked, don’t jump to conclusions. There may be a simple reason why your calls aren’t going through. There could be a network problem, the person may have the phone turned off, the battery is dead or they didn’t pay their bill on time. It happens.

One possible way to still get through is to disguise your phone number from the other phone. There are ways to hide your number from caller ID, either by changing your call settings or by downloading an app that will handle it for you.

Check out our guide to making anonymous calls. Just remember to use this power wisely. If someone really doesn’t want to hear from you, you may need to just respect that person’s decision.

There’s a fine line between just trying to get in touch and bothering someone. Don’t cross that line. If you’re concerned, then try reaching out over email, through snail mail, or through a family member or mutual friend.

BONUS TECH SMARTS TIP: 9 brilliant things to do with that old cellphone you have lying around

The days of upgrading your phone every year are over for most of us. Smartphones are expensive, and we want them to last as long as possible.

But after a few years, we see all the new shiny features that are being released and just have to get them — which is why you probably have a drawer full of old gadgets lying around.

Letting them simply pile up and collect dust isn’t just a waste of money but also a missed opportunity. You’d be surprised by how many useful functions your old devices are capable of.

Tap or click for your options, from making some cash to setting up an e-reader.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

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Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.

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