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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

Tip Card
Download Spoofing Tip Card

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.

Spoofing Scams

Scams Take Toll on Older Asian Americans

FCC Webinar guest shares data revealing the physical and mental toll that being scammed takes on older Asian American Pacific Islander victims. Read this Article (5/30/19)

Older - but Wiser - Telecom Users

Recent studies show Baby Boomers' daily smartphone use rivals Millennials', but the younger generation falls for phone scams more often. Read this article (5/16/19)

Guard Yourself Against Social Security Spoofing Scams

Nearly all of your financial and medical records are connected to your Social Security number, making it a prime target for robocall spoofing schemes. Avoid becoming a victim by taking a few simple steps. Read this article (4/16/19)

FCC Call Center Number Spoofed in Chinese Consulate Scam

Chinese-language calls that refer to, or display, 1-888-225-5322 (1-888-CALL-FCC) on caller ID are fraudulent, and you should hang up immediately. Read this article | FCC提醒消費者注意被假冒的1-888-Call-FCC電話號碼 (3/29/19)

Q&A's

  • What can you do if your number is being spoofed?  expand and contract
  • What is neighbor spoofing?  expand and contract
  • When is spoofing illegal?  expand and contract
  • What is blocking or labeling?  expand and contract
  • What are the caller ID rules for telemarketers?  expand and contract

 

 
Date Last Updated/Reviewed: 
Monday, July 15, 2019