March 4, 2019 - 11:06 am
By Patrick Webre | Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

As we mark National Consumer Protection Week this year, the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau remains focused on helping consumers avoid scam robocalls that use caller ID spoofing to trick you into answering your phone.

Many phone scammers use caller ID spoofing to evade call-blocking or filtering tools in order to trick consumers about a call's true source.  Spoofing can cause your phone's caller ID to display numbers that appear to be from your local area code or other numbers that look familiar and trustworthy to you, such as a call from a neighbor, a company you do business with, or a government agency.  Spoofing makes it easier for scammers to dupe unsuspecting consumers into answering the phone and, in the worst cases, giving away valuable personal information, which can then be used in fraudulent activity or sold illegally.

To help raise consumer awareness, the FCC posts timely articles to our Consumer Help Center to alert you to spoofing scams so that you don't become a victim.  We recently posted an article to flag a tech support scam.  Consumers can also keep track of these alerts via the @FCC Twitter account.

Also available is an article archive describing similar robocall and spoofing scams, including those targeting veterans, military personnel and their families, older Americans, college students, 9/11 victims' families, and non-English speakers.  Other schemes include fake charities, Medicare, Social Security, IRS, and jury duty scams.  Many of these scams persist today, with new ones continuously popping up.

Last month, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai reiterated his demand that the telecom industry adopt a robust caller ID authentication system that would help stop spoofed scam calls before they reach your phone.  This system would also help authorities to track down these unscrupulous scammers.

Meanwhile, we're working to create new policies that will help stifle spoofing.  Just last month, the Commission began a rulemaking process to clamp down on malicious spoofing attacks and fraudulent texts that originate outside of the U.S.  In a video available here, Chairman Pai explains why these rules are critical to help the FCC enforce new laws enacted to stem the tide of overseas spoofing that plagues American consumers.  You can find this video and more on the FCC YouTube channel.

We've also made recent progress seeking common-sense solutions to ease the number of robocalls Americans receive.  In December, the Commission approved new rules to establish a reassigned phone numbers database, providing a resource for legitimate callers so they don't inadvertently call a new consumer rather than the prior holder of the number who had given their consent to be called.

Finally, we want to meet you where you live.  FCC consumer experts have been hitting the road to hear your stories and provide consumer information that can be shared in communities that are miles from dense population centers.  We met with people in the Pacific Northwest and Appalachia in late 2018, working jointly with the Department of Veterans Affairs in some locations.  We have several trips planned for 2019.  We'll be announcing trip details soon.

Meanwhile, we'll continue working with our partners at the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies, industry and consumer groups, and the FCC's own Consumer Advisory Committee, to continue building on our recent success in serving American consumers.

In words of the late, great Tom Petty, we won't back down.


Consumers can file a complaint with the FCC at no cost. Read the FCC Complaint Center FAQ to learn more about the FCC's informal complaint process, including how to file a complaint, and what happens after a complaint is filed. You can also file complaints with the FTC about consumer fraud, including fraud resulting from spoofed phone calls.