I've been getting a lot of spam phone calls. Today I had one from a strange number (started with 1188). When I said hello the person asked to speak to me by name. I confirmed it was me speaking, but the rest of call was so strange I'm concerned it may have been some scam.

Is there a polite way to ask for the person calling to identify themselves first? Ideally I would get the name of the name of their company too as if they say a name I don't recognize it's not much help. I'm applying for jobs so I don't want to be dismissive of numbers I don't recognize.

  • 1
    Have you tried just asking? A simple "I'm sorry, who is this?" isn't rude at all when talking to someone on the phone. Especially when they cold call you. Dec 17 '19 at 14:02
  • We have a related question about etiquette of who should identify themselves first, have you read that? Many of the answers there do address how to ask for the caller's name.
    – Em C
    Dec 17 '19 at 14:20
  • What on Earth does closed for not being clear mean?
    – potionpot1
    Dec 18 '19 at 9:48
  • There's more explanation at the link in the notice (this page) - basically, users here thought the question needed more details in order to get good answers. If the related question Notts90 and I linked does not answer your question, you can edit this one to explain why it does not, and also answer Lux's question why simply asking isn't a good solution for you. That will put it in a queue where users can see the changes and vote to reopen it, or suggest other things to edit.
    – Em C
    Dec 18 '19 at 16:06

IMHO - if the caller does not identify themselves it's already rude and impolite. There is no need to try to be polite to them. Second, and this is more psychological, when you ask them and they answer you are "in debt" to them. People usually try to return the favour so at least they will listen to the pitch. Because again, they fell it would be rude if they interrupted after someone made a favour for them.

Usually when someone start talking I just say

Who am I talking to?

No "excuse me", no "sorry I didn't heard your name", no "please". I try to show it's my time that are taking and it was them who made a savoir-vivre mistake. Often, usually when I say their name back to them they just hang on. Because, again, it shows I'm not very easy to talk nor sell to.

  • Hi SZCZERZO-KŁY, sorry to say so, but I can't see the difference between what you recommend and what I did too: who's asking please? is the same as Who am I talking to?, don't you think?
    – OldPadawan
    Dec 17 '19 at 14:01
  • 1
    @OldPadawan I would say the diffrence is in "please". Because please can always be ignored. "who's asking please? - Can I talk with JoeDoe? who's asking please? Am I speaking with JoeDeo" and at finitium. For "Who am I talking to?" there are only two asnwers "name of the person" "a human". And to the latter you answer with "I would be amazed if I was talking with a potatoe". You wrote that you repeat, nicely. There is no need to be nice and repeating yourself means loosing your own time and, fr the caller, that they have shoe in your doors. Dec 17 '19 at 14:10
  • On the phone, adding words like "please" is not just for politeness, but is also for accentuation and to really make sure the other end is hearing you clearly. For example, if you ask "Could I ask who's calling, please?" That is just much less likely to be distorted in a phone conversation than, say, "Who's this?" For the phone conversation, "Who's calling, please?" is probably the simplest, most polite, and clearest. You can repeat it, if necessary. "Who's calling, please?" always with a polite tone, until they respond.
    – Brandin
    Nov 23 at 14:35

Many companies sell their clients' list to other companies, because they have a business agreement, or because they just make money selling data to someone who won't hurt their business. For instance, some phone companies sell their data to cruise companies. That's why the caller knows your name, location, soemtimes more PII like age, children... and so on.

I get a lot of calls like that, profesionally and personally. It's soooo annoying. I've found out that, most of the time, the poor lad on the other side of the phone, hard working in a call-center, with poor or no training, underpaid, will have a lot of hang-ups to his cold call. At the very least, he'll expect people not to be that nice.

So, I act like a "executive secretary". And, as soon as I hear: "may I talk to Mr so-and-so please?", I reply with a neutral tone: "who's asking please?" or "what is it for please?".

This way, they don't know if you're the targeted person or not, you don't give more information. If the person won't answer, and keep pushing, I'll just repeat, nicely.

From there, and depending on their next move, you'll have to adapt. Works nice with me, and the call stops pretty quickly now, they won't waste time arguing when they keep politely receiving the same deflecting answer to their inquiring questions.


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