The Number You Have Dialed Has Not Been Recognised


When calling back an old friend, you may hear that ‘the number you have dialed has not been recognised’ without the phone ringing. Other carriers might say that the number you have dialed cannot be reached or does not exist.

It’s not common for this tone to be heard and usually, when someone’s phone is off, their call goes straight to voicemail or if they can’t answer, it rings then goes to answerphone for you to leave a voicemail. Because it’s unusual to hear that the number you have dialed has not been recognised, it might lead you to think that the recipient has blocked your number.

Whether you’re using a landline to call back this number or you’re mobile, as long as you’re using a UK provider such as BT, Three, O2, EE, or Virgin, you can hear ‘the number you have dialed has not been recognised’ error message when dialing back a number.

It can get extremely frustrating to know that you can’t reach the number that just called you but you’ll be surprised to know that in 90% of cases where you’re dialing this number back, it’s actually a fake number that you’re dialing back and the number that supposedly called you isn’t the true caller id, it’s just a number they’ve used to hide their identity so they can freely make phone calls without having to worry about anything.

What ‘The Number You Have Dialed Has Not Been Recognised’ Mean

Again, hearing the number you have dialed has not been recognized isn’t something to be worried about, it simply means that there’s a problem with the number that you’re trying to call.

Similarly to this error message, you might hear ‘The Number You have dialed does not exist’. The Number You have dialed does not exist means the same thing as the number you have called has not been recognised. The number you’re trying to call doesn’t exist as a number that can be dialed.

That number isn’t allocated to a sim and no one, despite the network provider they’re trying to call them from, or the area code anyone trying to call that number may be in, it’s not a real number and it can’t be called.

There are no caveats to this, if you get the error saying that the number you’re trying to dial doesn’t exist, it doesn’t exist. There’s nothing wrong with their signal or their phone being switched off or dead, their number isn’t real and can’t be called by anyone.

This doesn’t mean that their number didn’t ever exist, it could’ve existed in the past as a number allocated to a provider that people could dial, and it could also exist as a number in the future, but for now, it doesn’t.

1. You’ve Typed In The Incorrect Number

If you’ve been told that the number you’ve dialed doesn’t exist by the answerphone, then chances are that you have typed the wrong number. Number check that you’ve entered the right amount of characters for numbers in your area and make sure that you’ve double-checked that the number is correct.

If you’ve never called this number before and someone just gave it to you, make sure that you double-check that number with the person that gave it to you. If you’ve called that exact number before and it went through, then there could be a problem elsewhere.

2. They’ve Changed Carriers

If someone has changed carriers, and you’re trying to connect to their number that was previously connecting, it might take a few days for their calls to start connecting again.

Usually when someone changes carrier and tries to keep the same number, it take a few days for everything to be set up correctly, and whilst you’re trying to contact them in between those times, the answerphone will let you know that the number doesn’t exist.

3. They Didn’t Pay Their Bill

If someone is using pay as you go and they’ve run out, any calls that go out to that number won’t recognize that number so you need to make sure that you’re calling people who have minutes and credit. Usually carrier disconnect numbers for people who no longer have credit then once they do have credit, you can connect with them again.

4. They’ve Changed Their Number

If someone has changed their number, then their old number will no longer exist if they’ve stopped using it and notified their carrier about it. Their carrier will then disconnect the number so that it can’t be contacted which is why when you try to call the number, it says that the call is not recognisable.

For your calls to connect with that person again, you need to contact them via another means and get hold of their new number so that new calls to them can go through.

Number Not Recognised When Calling Back? Here’s Why

If you’re calling someone back and the number that you’re trying to call can’t be recognised when trying to call them back, you might to shocked because how can a number that just called you not be recognised.

The truth is that the number that just called you isn’t the number that just called you, a different number called you, but it’s being spoofed/masked as the fake number that you’re trying to call.

1. They’ve Spoofed Their Mobile Number

When spam callers and telemarketer set up their phones, they don’t actually put the same number as they were assigned for their caller ID. This helps them evade the do not call registry and many countries have as a list of people not to call.

The whole point of this is that you can’t trace where the call came from and if their caller id looks like a number that you’re likely to answer which is a number starting with 07 if you’re in the UK, you’re more likely to answer compared to a number that starts with 08 or 03 for example.

You can’t really block these calls as these telemarketers and spam callers use a different fake number each time they call someone new.

2. They Don’t Receive Incoming Calls

Some businesses or callers have their lines set up so that they can’t actually receive calls, but they can’t make calls. These can be legit businesses as well dodgy reasons that they make the number they’re calling from different to what their actual caller id is.

A car dealership for example could call you from a personal phone number but the number being shown is the company number so if you call back the salesman, it’ll be set so that the main company number answers your call and if the main company number is set so they can’t receive calls, then your call won’t go through.

The phone company can easily set this up on their phone system on business-type ISDN lines and this same technology can be used by less legit companies such as companies that rely on spam calls however, they’re typically based abroad.

On a standard residential line which is what most people use, you either show your true number or you inhibit yourself from being shown by hiding your caller id, but on business lines, this can easily be done.

3. They’re Scamming Someone Else

Some scammers use an auto-dial system that calls random numbers in sequential order. If someone answers the call the scammer is trying to make, sometimes the scammer can’t pick up as they’re trying to call someone else and scam them which is why the call won’t connect and you’ll be told that the number does exist.

The number that they use to call you is typically faked and spoofed because they’re using a VoIP system and they’ve set their call from number to a number that doesn’t exist, hence why when you call them back you’re told that the number cannot be recognised.

Does ‘The Number You Have Dialed Has Not Been Recognised’ Mean You’ve Been Blocked?

When calls don’t go to voicemail and you hear the answer machine saying that the phone number you have called hasn’t been recognised, it doesn’t mean that you’ve been blocked. If a call number doesn’t exist or isn’t recognised, it means that there’s a problem with the number rather than someone blocking you.

There is no concrete way to tell if someone blocked you when you call them. However, when calling a number that has blocked you, you’ll usually hear one ring, but the other phone remains silent. You’ll then be informed that the recipient isn’t available and is diverted to voicemail.

If that service is set up by the person you’re calling, you can leave a message even if someone has blocked you.

However, the blocker will never be notified of the message, but it does appear at the very bottom of their voicemail list in the blocked messenger section but only if they’re on a carrier that supports visual voicemail.

To test this out, you can use another number or a friend’s phone to call the person who you think has blocked you. If the call does go through, then you’ll be able to

David Johnson is a freelance writer with 9 years of experience writing for Techzillo and other established tech outlets like iMore. His focus and key interests are Apple and accessibility as well as consumer technology in general. Read our Editorial Guidlines and Fact Checking process.


  1. My mother recently switched from Virgin media to Sky taking her landline number with her. Her landline works perfectly except that anyone using a Virgin line, mobile or landline, can’t call her number. Virgin users get the message “number not recognised”. This is despite the fact she can call these Virgin numbers. We have contacted Virgin, who seem clueless. A BT Openreach engineer, organised through Sky, has failed to solve the problem.

  2. This happens to me with friend’s numbers. I could have a conversation with them (if they call me), then call them back again and receive this response. It’s frustrating to say the least.


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