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Your phone rings. You recognize the number, but when you pick up, it’s someone else. What’s the deal?

Scammers are using fake caller ID information to trick you into thinking they are someone local, someone you trust – like a government agency or police department, or a company you do business with – like your bank or cable provider. The practice is called caller ID spoofing, and scammers don’t care whose phone number they use. One scammer recently used the phone number of an FTC employee.

Don’t rely on caller ID to verify who’s calling. It can be nearly impossible to tell whether the caller ID information is real. Here are a few tips for handling these calls:

  • If you get a strange call from the government, hang up. If you want to check it out, visit the official (.gov) website for contact information. Government employees won’t call out of the blue to demand money or account information.
  • Don’t give out — or confirm — your personal or financial information to someone who calls.
  • Don’t wire money or send money using a reloadable card. In fact, never pay someone who calls out of the blue, even if the name or number on the caller ID looks legit.
  • Feeling pressured to act immediately? Hang up. That’s a sure sign of a scam.

Want more tips for avoiding scams? Check out 10 Ways to Avoid Fraud.

If you’ve received a call from a scammer, with or without fake caller ID information, report it to the FTC and the FCC.

Scams

656 Comments


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
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  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

Lingcar
February 14, 2017

In reply to by CICT

Another scam call from (866) 207-3465

Caller said our son was in jail and stay in for 2-4 weeks if we don't send $1480 .00 He identified himself as Atty. Eric Anderson. He gave the office address:,119 Pine Grove Circle Milford, PA. * I insisted to talk to our son He said that my son was intoxicated with alcohol level of 1.008 and his son was broken.

My son never touch alcohol. So I asked where he was. "PA... " I yelled at him because my son is not in PA. He hung up!! **I was skeptical of the call but my wife was so so worried /panicky when the lawyer Having a driver's license or photo identification card is commonplace for most Americans, but about 11 percent of adult citizens — more than 21 million people — lack a valid, government-issued photo ID, according to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. our son was in jail with a broken nose.

We called our son. He lectured us about spam calls.

AdiyahBatTziyon
April 12, 2017

In reply to by CICT

Add this number too. I have received 3 calls just today. 606-645-0106.
Ninja007
June 21, 2017

In reply to by CICT

I got a few numbers to add. (330)954-6976 (989)425-4032. (419)496-4044. These are IRS Scam calls!
Mari
June 30, 2017

In reply to by CICT

Add 646 809-9698 to your list, they called today June 30,2017 and left a lengthy voicemail saying they were the IRS and something about being arrested etc. other threats.
NoScammingAllowed
August 28, 2017

In reply to by CICT

Here's another number to add to the list. 12062121078
Frustrated
September 01, 2017

In reply to by CICT

Just received IRS scam call. Here's a new phone number for ya. 1-856-861-3621
BP
October 16, 2017

In reply to by CICT

Thank you for sharing! I am getting so many calls, I have my phone set to block any unknown numbers. Unfortunately for me, I miss calls that I need to get!
Don't use knig…
February 20, 2018

In reply to by CICT

new number fake IRS personel - 202-545-6514
Tired
April 10, 2018

In reply to by CICT

You might as well add this number716 371 8724
lora
September 27, 2018

In reply to by CICT

i got a call today from (404)-551-4252 a friend called the number on there phone and they claimed to be IRS
Get these guys...
May 12, 2016

In reply to by mmsorok

Received a call today from a number that actually belongs to the FBI office in Vancouver, WA. Three individuals, a woman and two men, said they were coming to kill me. I hung up and they called back twice. No demand for money. The sheriff and Seattle FBI said that they were grooming me to demand money. That these people can get away with threatening the life of an American in America is beyond ridiculous. I say we start fighting back and figuring out who the Hell these people are.
justworrried
May 13, 2016

In reply to by mmsorok

i've been receiving as well and often for quite some time. I finally replied that I knew they were scammers and discontinue calling me. I was met with "you can not find me, I will call you everyday as many times as I want and there is nothing you can do". Seriously? Hate to admit, but it's getting scary.
ctressler
May 13, 2016

In reply to by justworrried

If you’re getting repeated calls from the same number, your phone company may be able to block that number, but first ask whether there’s a fee for this service.

If you’re getting unwanted calls from a lot of different numbers, look into a call blocking solution. There are online call blocking services, call blocking boxes, and smartphone apps that block unwanted calls. Do an online search to look for reviews from experts and other users, and find out whether the service costs money.

Harassing for money
May 13, 2016

In reply to by mmsorok

Add 919-336-0009. They call under the name FBI, Cory, and UPS but with the same number. They harass my 82 year old alzheimers grandmother daily, who lives with us. She gets so so upset because she thinks she owes them money. We use time warner cable and im hoping we can block them? I dont want to have to change the phone number because she has lost phone numbers of old friends but they have hers. Any suggestions on how to get them to stop calling. Btw its a landline. I have called this number back only to get a busy signal. They call her and ask her to give them money for she has legal papers filed against you! She owes nothing but this upsets her all day and conpels her to want to pay them because she forgets what i told her about her not owing them and they are scammers. I am so angry feel helpless.
FTC Staff
May 16, 2016

In reply to by Harassing for money

Some people use an answering machine to screen calls. That way you don't have to answer every call. If a person starts talking to leave a message, you can choose whether or not to answer.

If the calls are coming from one particular number, you could contact your phone company and ask to block that number. Ask if there's a fee for the service. 

If you get unwanted calls from many different numbers, look into a call blocking solution. There are online call blocking services, call blocking boxes, and smartphone apps that block unwanted calls. Research whether the service costs money and whether it’s effective. You can look online for reviews from experts and other users.

BrassBand5
May 21, 2016

In reply to by mmsorok

A week ago I got an IRS scam call that had I name for the CallerID. This week I got another call from the same name. This time they said they were a medical organization and "needed" to help me with my medical condition (that I don't have). I told them to tell the IRS Hi and hung up. Soooo Dumb.
cordialme
May 25, 2016

In reply to by mmsorok

I received a call stating that Netflix never receive my monthly payment and that I needed to upgrade my credit card information. There was an error in the fake Netflix email address. I forwarded to my spam folder.
anonymous
August 03, 2016

In reply to by mmsorok

Here are a couple other numbers. The 800 number is a real IRS number but the scammer sounds Nigerian and it sounds like a boiler room call bank in the background. I reported the calls to FTC and TIG site found on the IRS site. 646-586-9787 and 800-829-4933. Scammers!
Just4aprilb
September 14, 2016

In reply to by mmsorok

I do owe some taxes and thought this voice message was legit. I called the number and got a message stating it was a non working 'life jack'(I think that is correct name) number. It gave another number to call 'life jack'. Just getting that 10 second recording could I have gotten hacked? Could they possibly get info speed in my phone?
Texasmade
January 24, 2017

In reply to by mmsorok

866 386 6642 is a scam and her name is Christina. She claims that she is from the state of texas filing department and is pressing criminal charges. I work for the state. The state does not call from an 866 number, and usually any letter is US Mail. Do not give this person your information
WhyTho
January 27, 2017

In reply to by Texasmade

I just received a call from this number, they called my Mother and my daughter! I called back but there is only a voicemail
Monica
February 02, 2017

In reply to by Texasmade

I got a person name Olivia and she confirmed if this was a correct number and said she was from state filing. Then she started to site something and said fraud and I'm like fraud? I asked what are the names of the company who's filing a complaint against me and she couldn't give me that information! She said I would have to call them. So I said let me call you back and get a paper and pen. So when I called back, just a voice mail and no name of the company. This is definitely a scam! I do not owe anything and if it's state, they just take it out from my taxes and send me something in the mail. Don't give them any information!
bywind
February 01, 2017

In reply to by mmsorok

I have had numerous calls every single day since Dec. when I first got my phone number. What I want to say..The people who scam people are COMPLETE IDIOTS for thinking we would fall for their little lies. I GUESS THEY DON:T have a life...SAD..
Idiothere
June 13, 2017

In reply to by mmsorok

Add # (206)414-1327 and #(256)371-6470 I got scammed $800 yesterday .I realized it was a scam when they asked me for more money saying the amount I owed suddenly went up another couple thousand I know how stupid of me to fall for it . I woke up to that urgent message and didn't think just called them back and got dupped. How I didn't know this scam was happening idk. I now block every unknown number I get. Lesson learned .
Chrystal
August 23, 2017

In reply to by mmsorok

Put this number to the list as well. It tried contacting my husband and saying they have a warrant for his arrest if he doesn't pay. 206 312 0068
Fedup in NJ
November 16, 2017

In reply to by mmsorok

Shouldn't something like this be illegal? How is it ok or possible for someone else to use possibly my number essentially posing as me until the person picks up the line??? I have called back these spoof numbers and a very annoyed victim answered telling me I had been calling him! This has got to stop. How do I remove my phone number from being available to the public?
SLB
November 28, 2017

In reply to by mmsorok

This scammer texted me saying they were the IRS. Be aware and do not give them any personal info. I gave them fake everything!!!!!!! Even address!!!!!! The number is tel:(929)-335-3029!!!!!! Be very aware!!!!!
Tank
December 13, 2017

In reply to by mmsorok

Latest on caller id spoofing, is they use your own phone number ! The only difference will be the area code.
huggy4
May 04, 2016
I know the precautions to take, but have gotten to the point I can't even be sure this email came from the FTC. It is very demoralizing. Thanks for the tip.
subratodas250
May 04, 2016
Yes its true and running with me
SweetBippy
May 04, 2016
I recieve calls daily from men with thick foreign accents who have the nerve to tell me they are from the US government. Their numbers come in with the area code 202 whoch is Washington DC. Don't be fooled. Hang Up!
ANNA
February 09, 2017

In reply to by scorya

just received a call from some scammer saying he was calling from the us treasury 202-568-5894 . I hung up add this to list
Whylene
May 04, 2016
Thank you..and they are now hacking into Facebook accounts to read posts,and retrieve personal information..email,address, phone numbers,your picture.. They read about you and your family..be careful...
owner owner
May 04, 2016

I receive calls with imaginary area codes. The callers do NOT leave a message. The Jamaican Million Dollar Lottery is back.

Pissed OFF
June 14, 2016

In reply to by owner owner

from 1-876-357-8331 & His name was "James Carter". That I won in a sweepstakes (which I never entered). & to give him money to retain my prize. I told him don't call this number again & that I didn't enter any sweepstakes & hung up. he called back 3 more times.
cynhia
April 19, 2017

In reply to by Pissed OFF

Call from 347-926-7308 a NY City number but a foreign sounding voice I had a hard time understanding. Said he was calling for the American Sweepstakes (something) and said I had entered a sweepstakes in January. I have never entered a sweepstakes so I told him he had the wrong person. He said he had an entry from (my name). Obviously this is a sweepstakes scam where they try to get you to pay money in order to win your prize. I hung up
owner owner
May 04, 2016
The lottery caller threatened me yesterday.
Donna L
April 20, 2017

In reply to by owner owner

I too have been receiving,,several times that I am a winnr in this Lottery.....Going on for weeks,,,but a foreign from Jamaica is making these calls
Shekesmom
May 04, 2016

Received a call on April 28, 2016 from a fake IRS. They asked me to call them at 650-479-3053 and the caller ID shows Half Moon Bay, CA. I chose not to answer and they left a robo call message on my cellphone.

concerned citizen
May 05, 2016

In reply to by Shekesmom

I have received calls from 2 different numbers claiming they are the IRS and they have filed a lawsuit against me and need me to call immediately to the number it came through from. One is a cell phone number 740-241-2608 and the other one is from another cell number from CA 310-667-1800. I didn't answer or call back because I know they are scams. The IRS would never call you much less from a cell phone. They would contact you with a letter through the mail. Don't fall for these scams!
Payback
May 09, 2016

In reply to by concerned citizen

After I got the robo call, I called them to ask what kind of company they were and where they were located and they hung up on me. I kept calling them back hitting the redial continuously for 30 minutes to frustrate them telling them I was going to report them. As a real IRS employee, it was fun getting a little revenge!!
mmsoroko
May 04, 2016
This is illegal. Slavery is illegal. And this scamming and scam calls is a form of slavery. All slavery is illegal.