What Happens If You Answer A Spam Risk Call?

Answering a spam call increases the likelihood of receiving more spam calls and opens the door to cybersecurity threats — and potential identity theft.
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Spam calls, including robocalls and spoofed number calls, are growing in popularity. In fact, they’re the Federal Trade Commission’s top consumer complaint. It might be a surprise, but Americans receive an average of seven spam calls — for a total of 2.2 billion calls — per month.[1]

Spam calls are more than annoying. These phony calls often use convincing phishing tactics and cyber threats to convince unsuspecting victims to hand over personal, sensitive information if they answer.

In this article, we cover what to do if you receive a spam call, what happens if you answer a spam call, and how to protect yourself from spam calls. With this information and a plan with one of the best identity theft protection services, you can protect yourself from phone scams and spam calls.

In this article
What are spam calls?
What happens if I’ve answered a spam call?
How smartphones can protect against spam calls
How to stop spam callers: Tips for staying safe
Bottom line

What are spam calls?

If you’ve ever received an unwanted call from an unknown caller, then you’ve been spammed. Some common examples of spam calls include telemarketers, robocalls, spoofing, and government imposter calls. So what’s their endgame?

Spam callers want to get you chatting so that you reveal personally identifiable information. With access to your personal details, spammers can hack into your online accounts or gain access to your financials. Another aim is to get you to willingly give the spam caller money through some fraudulent means. Scammers may pose as officials, charities, or businesses requesting payments or donations.

Generally, the less you interact with spam calls, the less likely you are to receive more. Answering the call flags you as a good target, potentially increasing the number of spam calls you receive.

Fortunately, there are telltale signs of a spam call. Knowing what to look for can help you protect yourself from these fraudulent callers and keep you safe online.

How to identify scam calls

Like with many other phishing scams, spam calls use the same techniques to lure victims into providing sensitive information. They use high-pressure tactics and a sense of urgency to make you think you must act immediately.

They repeatedly ask for or demand personally identifiable information, account details, or credentials. Look for these red flags to help identify potential scam calls.

  • Calls labeled as Spam Risk, Potential Spam, or Scam Likely by your mobile carrier
  • The use of high-pressure tactics, a sense of urgency, or limited-time offers
  • Requests to “confirm” personal information
  • Suspicious payment methods, like gift cards or wire transfers
  • Aggressive behavior or the use of threats
  • Robocalls that start with a pre-recorded number
  • Claims to be a loved one in desperate need of financial assistance

What happens if I’ve answered a spam call?

Phone scammers are becoming more sophisticated every day, so it’s reasonable to wonder what happens if you answer a spam call. Answering a spam call doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be the latest victim of identity theft. But you may be redirected to a scammer, and your phone number may be marked as a good target, opening you up to more spam calls.

Often, spam callers use phishing or smishing (SMS phishing) tactics to siphon information out of you. Accidentally sharing personal information with a scammer exposes you to several cyber threats like identity theft or financial loss. According to a 2022 spam and scam report, Americans lost $39.5 billion in phone scams alone.[2]

If you’ve answered a spam call, here’s what to do next.

Steps to take if you’ve answered a spam call

So you accidentally answered a spam call. Now what? If you answered the call but didn’t interact with the spam caller, odds are you’re probably safe.

But if you accidentally reveal personal information, act quickly to mitigate potential consequences. Here’s what to do if you’ve overshared with an unknown caller.

  1. Do not provide any more personal information.
  2. Hang up as soon as you realize it’s a scammer.
  3. Block the caller.
  4. Lock your SIM card.
  5. Report unwanted calls to your mobile carrier.
  6. Report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if you think you may be the victim of financial fraud.
  7. File a report with local law enforcement if you think you may be the victim of identity theft.
  8. Contact your bank or financial institution.
  9. Put a fraud alert on your credit report.
  10. Consider using identity theft protection for remediation.

How smartphones can protect against spam calls

As spam callers adapt, mobile carriers and smartphones adapt to help slow the number of robocalls and spam calls. Phone carriers are implementing spam protection by using machine learning and databases to identify potential spam calls. This smartphone feature helps to reduce the number of calls you have to screen.

Features like Silence Unknown Callers and Scam Likely on iOS devices and similar features on Android phones help diminish the number of calls you may receive. You can also filter spam calls or block incoming calls from unrecognized numbers through your mobile carrier.

To ensure you receive maximum spam call protection from your phone or mobile carrier, ensure your device is updated regularly.

How to stop spam callers: Tips for staying safe

Scammers use auto-dialing and robo-dialing techniques to call as many people as possible in a short amount of time. While there’s no way to thwart spam callers completely, there are ways to limit the number of calls you receive.

  • Enable your phone’s built-in call-blocking features.
  • Check to make sure your phone number isn’t publicly visible in Google or other search engines.
  • Double-check your social media profiles to ensure your number isn’t listed.
  • Use your mobile carrier’s spam-blocking app.
  • Use a verified third-party spam-blocking app.
  • Silence unknown callers.
  • Block spam callers.
  • Don’t answer or call back unknown numbers.
  • Never give out personally identifiable information or account information.
  • Don’t share your phone number with unknown parties.
  • Add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry.
  • Remove your information from data broker sites.
  • Use identity theft protection services to protect yourself and your information online.

Tested identity theft prevention services

If personal information gets into the wrong hands, the consequences of identity theft can be devastating. Identity theft protection services can not only help prevent identity theft but also help you recover if it occurs.

Identity theft protection services typically offer extensive monitoring features, such as monitoring home title, Social Security number, dark web, and even social media, alerting you if an imposter tries to assume your identity. Additionally, most identity theft protection plans offer credit monitoring and credit reports, so you can be assured no one is using your identity to open new accounts or lines of credit.

If you’re the victim of identity theft, an identity theft protection plan with insurance and remediation can compensate for identity theft losses and provide remediation services.

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Should you answer calls that say Spam Risk?

No. The best rule of thumb is to answer only calls you know to be legitimate. Legitimate callers will leave a voicemail if they need to reach you. Your phone can use machine learning to detect and alert you to potential spam calls, and it’s best to ignore or decline such calls.


What if I accidentally answer a spam call?

If you accidentally answer a spam call, hang up without offering any personal information. Be sure to immediately block the caller with your mobile carrier to prevent repeat calls.

If you have already divulged personal details or sensitive data, report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission, and take necessary precautions to ensure online protection.


What happens if you call back a spam number?

If you call back a spam number, you could be opening yourself up to identity theft or paying a hefty price on your next phone bill, as these scammers can call from international numbers.


Why do I keep getting Spam Risk calls?

Once you’ve answered a spam call, the caller recognizes your phone number as a good target. An answered call may trigger more calls since they know your phone number is valid and working. As an added layer of protection, don’t give out your cell phone number to further protect yourself from unsolicited calls.


How does my phone know if a call is spam?

Spam Risk, Potential Spam, and Scam Likely are messages from your device or mobile service provider warning you of potential spam calls. Your smartphone and/or service provider use machine learning to evaluate the incoming number, including a high volume of calls or unusual call history.

Bottom line

Spam calls are annoying, but they can also have devastating consequences if the scammer is able to steal valuable information from you and commit identity theft. Follow general best practices to protect yourself from spam calls — add your number to the Do Not Call Registry, avoid answering calls from unknown numbers, and block any known spam phone numbers. If you accidentally answer a spam call, end the call as soon as possible and avoid sharing personal information.

There are many ways to protect yourself from spam calls, but investing in identity theft protection services is the surest way to protect yourself online. Our guide on the best identity theft protection services can help you determine which ID theft protection is best for you.

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Author Details
Courtney Daybell brings over 15 years of experience in print journalism and holds a B.A. in Communications from Brigham Young University. Her focus has shifted to cyber security, where she specializes in topics such as identity theft protection, password managers, antivirus software, and more.


[1] Truecaller U.S. Spam Stats March 2024

[2] Truecaller Insights 2022 U.S. Spam & Scam Report