FCC Consumer Video: Don't Hang On, Hang Up! To watch this video with captions, hit play, click on the settings icon, then click "Subtitles/CC" and select from available languages.
What Is Spoofing?
Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Scammers often use neighbor spoofing so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a local number, or spoof a number from a company or a government agency that you may already know and trust. If you answer, they use scam scripts to try to steal your money or valuable personal information, which can be used in fraudulent activity.
Watch the video and click through the tabs to learn more about spoofing and how to avoid being scammed.
If you think you've been the victim of a spoofing scam, you can file a complaint with the FCC.
How to Avoid Spoofing
You may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Be extremely careful about responding to any request for personal identifying information.
- Don't answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
- If you answer the phone and the caller - or a recording - asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
- Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with "Yes" or "No."
- Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
- If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company's or government agency's website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.
- Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
- If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.
- Talk to your phone company about call blocking tools and check into apps that you can download to your mobile device. The FCC allows phone companies to block robocalls by default based on reasonable analytics. More information about robocall blocking is available at fcc.gov/robocalls.
Remember to check your voicemail periodically to make sure you aren't missing important calls and to clear out any spam calls that might fill your voicemail box to capacity.
Recent Spoofing Scams
Bogus COVID-19 Tests and Pharmacy Offers
As the race for effective treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 intensifies, scammers continue to prey on our hopes and fears in attempts to steal insurance info, money or both. Get tips to help you avoid scam offers for unapproved antibodies tests or "pre-approved" medications and supplies from scam pharmacies. Read This Article
After Storms, Watch Out for Scams
Natural disasters and severe weather can create opportunities for fraud in their wake, occurring at a time when people may be especially vulnerable, or targeting charitable intentions. Read This Article
Keep Your Guard Up Against Census Imposters
Identity thieves posing as Census Bureau workers may call or text using spoofed phone numbers in attempts to steal valuable personal information. Learn about red flags that can help you avoid Census scams. Read This Article
Stealing All the Credit
Watch out for scam callers pretending to represent banks and credit card companies. They use a variety of tactics, such as bogus fraud alerts or promises of lowered interest rates, to steal your personal information and your credit. Read This Article