December 19, 2018

The History of Caller ID: Progression Of Trust & Distrust

Since the late 1960s, caller ID has been making ground in the world of telecommunications. It underwent years of testing during the 1960s and patent claims in the 1970s. Through its course, caller ID slowly became a viable means to upgrade communications.

caller id progression

Still, caller ID didn't make its way into public until the 1980s. The communication company Bell took the lead. They introduced the technology their consumers by providing the caller ID feature for its LAN lines. Upon its release, caller ID took the telecommunications industry by storm.

It eventually became a standard on LAN lines, beepers, and cell phones. Today it’s even made its way onto television screens, watches, and seemingly anything else with a screen. However, understanding its importance requires taking a look back. How did consumers come to trust caller ID technology and what are some callers doing to get around it?

Here are some key aspects of the evolution of Caller ID:

Trusting Caller ID

Before caller ID, you had no idea who would be on the other end of the phone. You would schedule someone to call you at a particular time and hope it was them. The invention of caller ID gave consumers the ability to quickly see the caller's contact information populate on their phone displays. This technology helped a ton when it was a telemarketer or someone you didn’t want to talk to at the moment.

Caller ID made it possible for consumers to screen calls with little or no effort. It provided the convenience to determine whether or not it was worth picking up the call. This insight was especially helpful if you were on the line with someone already.

People came to trust caller ID due to its convenience and insight. However, it wasn't long before people found a way around caller ID filters which led to skepticism.

The Mistrust of Caller ID

Unfortunately, people found ways to circumvent caller ID technology to trick people into answering. Therefore, many consumers lost their trust in caller ID technology.

Initially, callers would be able to see, based on the area code, whether they were likely to know the person on the other end. Companies purchased phone numbers with area codes similar to those in the targeted person’s area, to get around this. For example, telemarketing companies located in a different country would buy local phone numbers for the areas they called. This deceptive practice tricked people into thinking that someone such as a friend or family member was calling.

Deceptive Uses of Caller ID

Below are some of the deceptive ways caller ID has been used to trick people into picking up the phone.


A telemarketer’s main goal is to sell you something, but they first need you to pick up the phone. Telemarketing companies try to get people to answer the phone by using local presence dialing. They purchase a bulk of local numbers in your area and call from different ones. The variety of phone numbers gives them more opportunities to get you on the phone.


Unlike telemarketing, spoofing uses local, or a toll-free number with masked information displayed. You think the call is from your mother, but when you pick up, you realize it isn't. On the other end is someone whose main purpose is to obtain personal information from you. Some spoofers try to make those receiving the call even think it's from a reputable company. This action encourages false trust making you more likely to give away your personal information.

Voice over IP (VOIP)

Before the internet, someone had to be educated in telephony to deceive someone with caller ID. With VOIP technology, deceptive companies can quickly make a number up with false information that is hard to trace back. Using this method, they can make a fake toll free number and put in false information. Software and services allow them to edit the location and the business that is calling you. What's worse is, they can do this as many times as they want.

Combating Deceptive Use of Caller ID

Unless you have a caller in your contacts, you only see the number and location of the call and not the name of the person or company. Today, many available phone apps help you determine the origin of a call. They inform you whether the incoming call is from a known telemarketer or just a number you shouldn't pick up.

These apps give you the name of the business attempting to reach you. Some of them give you the option to send unwanted numbers straight to voicemail, so you're not bothered. Additionally, some websites let you search for phone numbers and see other users' experiences when they had that number call them.

The Ebb and Flow

Thanks to the invention of caller ID, consumers can conveniently screen their calls. The misuse of caller ID throughout its history facilitated a lack of trust in the technology. While some people and companies have found ways to get around caller ID, thankfully others have created apps or websites to help consumers gain trust again. Where will caller ID go next? Look for the newest SHAKEN/STIR'd technology, which aims to solidify trust in caller ID once and for all.

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