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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.


It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.

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.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • 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

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.

May 04, 2016

In reply to by mmsoroko

why are you paying the irs, sales tax which is only suppose to be collected in a fed. area ? just wondering..
May 04, 2016
I received a call from an alarm system co saying they were returning my call. I already have a system so I just slammed the phone down. I also got a package in the mail from someone wanting me to collect money and the outside said here is your packet you asked for. I marked through my name and put returned to sender on it. People think they can get you every way possible. I have learned from you all that I don't have to do anything about this type of stuff. Thanks for your help.
B Smart
May 04, 2016
My own approach for avoiding scammers, robocalls, etc. is to use an answering machine to screen ALL calls. When friends and family members call and hear, "Please leave a message" they only need to speak a few words before I pick up. Reputable persons and businesses have no problem leaving a message, but scammers will not. I've used this approach for over 10 years with 100% success and believe the FTC should include it among its recommendations.
Older but not …
May 20, 2016

In reply to by B Smart

I too use this technique. It really does work. My phone shows the # of the caller. Sometimes it just says out of area. If I do not recognize the # I just do not answer. If they really need to speak to me they can leave a number. A good 75% of the calls coming in do not leave a message.
December 06, 2016

In reply to by Older but not …

I had an individual call me asking why I was calling them everyday. I never called them. They said it was a health care company, using my number. What can I do?
FTC Staff
December 08, 2016

In reply to by Flowerpower

A scammer might have used your number to hide the number he was calling from. You may want to use your answering machine for a while until you stop getting mistaken calls.

Don't use your…
May 04, 2016
I was scammed like that last month for $3875 ! The number was the IRS number! Wish I could get my money back. Its all I had. Now, I'm flat broke, living week to week. Wish I'd known before I read this.
May 04, 2016

05/4/2016 at 11:34 am.

I don't know who did send me how get my name and address, text message letter I am deaf, my legal name is Kharidja 

Check by Person name Rich L. From West Nyack, New York send me check$ 114.00. Id Code 90092446 phone number 888-831-5723 I have all check from New York and I will mail and how know my name. By spam only and my bank did warning to me about Scam. I live at Redwood Dr    NC     home number 336-xxx xxxx and cell text number 336-xxx xxxx   I never give peoples over it my private but I against Tech support doing it. thank you

July 02, 2016

In reply to by Kharidja

I'm in the process of getting an elderly relative taken off direct mailing databases. That phone number is for Male Enhancement Warehouse. I called the number and spoke w/customer service & was assured the mail would stop in a week (believe that, and I have a bridge to sell you - another company told me 6 MONTHS before their mail stops).
May 04, 2016
I have received numerous calls stating they are the IRS and are going to take me to court. All in an automated setting. I just hang up. Have gotten 3-4 calls. Should have jotted phone # down.
Sacramento Ron
May 04, 2016
the telecom companies know damn well who pays the bills for the millions of robo and scam callers. they do nothing about it because it's a revenue stream. until the offenders actually have to pay the price for their invasions of privacy and outright will only continue. It's about time the telecom companies were charged with criminal behavior by allowing these offenders to buy the line time.
May 04, 2016

In reply to by Sacramento Ron

I totally agree, I have complained to ATT many times only to hear that they can't do anything about it. I can't believe that with all the tech we have available to us someone can't trace back to these people.
October 20, 2016

In reply to by frustration

They can. They choose not to. The post is correct that they can spoof caller ID. There is another thing called ANI that cannot be spoofed. The phone company chooses not to share that data with you.
May 04, 2016

In reply to by Sacramento Ron

Great idea! Telecom industry doesn't hesitate to charge us for any and/or all new innovations so why shouldn't they be responsible for all of this miserable scanning!
May 28, 2016

In reply to by Sacramento Ron

Why in the world would you think scammers pay the charges for any phone bills? Doesn't that just about defeat the purpose? Money to scammers only flows one way: TO them. Never FROM them.
June 25, 2016

In reply to by Sacramento Ron

Many times those calls originate from other countries where the scammers actually get assistance from the telco company there for a cut of the proceeds. The telco's here can't cross international borders to stop it on their own.
May 04, 2016
I've received calls displaying my deceased husband name and number. Cruel.
May 04, 2016
Received a scam call this morning from 914-356-8711 with a robo call message from a Ms Scott claiming that this was a final notice from the Dept. of United States Treasury concerning a tax filed against me. Message stated to call their hot line number before this goes to federal claims court or you get arrested. Knew this was a scam since I owe no taxes. I did not respond to the call but wanted to report this offence. Their hotline number was the same number that appeared in the call ID 914-356-8711.
May 04, 2016
I have been receiving calls from IRS (fake) from 2 days. from numbers 252-207-2119 and 251-213-8798
Hare Krishna
May 04, 2016
I also get many calls, and sometimes the caller id shows my number as the caller. Since I am retired and bored staying at home, thus I just listen to their pitch, and then hang up without saying a word.
May 04, 2016

I just began to get your alert emails about a week ago, and I find them very informative. I won't fall for another scammer's plan for me. Thank you for being available for me. Your alerts are valuable to me.

Go fly a kite
May 04, 2016
For the obvious scammer calls, I advise them this is a do-not-call number and they are in violation of FCC Regulations. Then I start into their Miranda Rights -that's when they hang up. Often, I don't answer "unavailable" with no recognizable phone numbers. But then this: Was expecting calls from the Seattle Museum of Flight, so answered the "unavailable" with no number. Both calls were the expected ones from different offices of the museum.
Taking Action
May 04, 2016
I'm a senior citizen who is getting fed up with my landline and cell phones ringing constantly everyday.I've had both my phones on the Do Not Call registry since 2011. I've received calls that the IRS is investigating my home,taking me to court, free trips, for free making my home a solar home when I live in an apartment, Microsoft who never would never call and so many more. I hang up up on them but I decided to take action and file a complaint with the FTC for every call I get.
May 04, 2016

In reply to by Taking Action

I agree the FTC should be going after these Scammers and doing their jobs! I'm tired of being on the Do Not Call Directory and still get calls on my Land Line and especially my Cell Phone EVERY day!!! About Credit Cards and lowering Interest, won vacations free, but they need money, free, Cruises, they have tried calling wanting me to get on computer and follow their directions and follow their directions and to many to name. It is beginning to become a constant thing the PHONES RINGING regular wanting to SCAN it is almost most od the day when is the FTC going to go after these people stop them from taking honest peoples money and charging them and putting them in prision that is what the FTC's job is to enforce the law can't have a moments piece for the PHONE CALLS EVERY DAY!!!!
July 24, 2016


Keep getting phone calls saying my phone is screwing up the internet--they are from Microsoft engeneers--need to have me go on line so they can fix--same call to my mother-in-law who is 87 and does not have a computer
Here it's
May 19, 2016

In reply to by Taking Action

Blow a whistle . I had a call tonight from a prison on my cheap cell. I did not have my whistle, guess I need to carry it by the phone.
Countrified Ci…
May 04, 2016
Not more than 10 minutes ago I received a call purportedly from the IRS that they have initiated a lawsuit against me and if I wanted more information she gave me a number to call. If I don't recognize the phone number on caller i.d., I let the machine answer. Saves a lot of aggravation.
May 04, 2016

In reply to by Countrified Ci…

The IRS never calls you if anything they respond by mail.
May 04, 2016
I have had a number of calls to tell me that I qualify for grants from the Federal Government because I pay my taxes on time. I just have to give them my banking information or a prepaid card to collect the money. I will never give any banking information to someone requesting my information. If the government wants me to receive money, they will mail a check. Don't fall for these scams.
September 20, 2016

In reply to by TheyThinkImDumb

Was the number2132719210 and then you are to call 2028476851 a Grant manager and they ask why you're calling SO evidently they are doing more than one scam at a time
May 04, 2016
That happen to me someone from the Philippines hacked my FB and was able to get money from my grandson ... I told them I was just a phone call away why did you not call me ? But my grandson was just 16 years old and all the while he was chatting with me ... So be careful out there ... FB should do their part in protecting their users ... Users Beware !!! Ads from China should be ban too they are selling clothes that are imitation of designers I was almost a victim ... Check out this website or ads Fashion Mia, Eric Dress JJHouse etc all from China with addresses in London....
FTC Staff
May 04, 2016

In reply to by gabbys

If a company hasn't lived up to its promises about a product, you can file a complaint with the FTC at

You can report international scams at That's a partnership of 36 consumer protection agencies around the world.

When you file a complaint with the FTC or, the details you give go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

May 04, 2016
Thank you again for this very valuable information, and the dedication of this department to protect consumers and American citizens. I would like to add one other option to your list. The on line White Pages directory allows you to do a revers phone number search. It's simple. You key in the number of the caller, and very often it will display that the caller is a fraud and there have been several complaints about that particular phone number. I use this each time I get an unidentified caller where there is only a phone number, or a caller that I have had no affiliation with. It provides more information to be used in reporting these callers to the Do not call list, and the FCC and FTC. I hope this helps.
May 04, 2016
For what little value they provide for cost of service, get TPC to delete all scam calls or spoofed numbers. Let LEGITIMATE comp-0anies get registered licenses for their business calls
Don't use your…
May 04, 2016
Unwanted emails are sent to The scamphone callerss are referred to 1-877-382-4357 - never hear from them again.
FTC Staff
May 04, 2016

In reply to by Don't use your…

The phone number (1-877-382-4357) is the FTC's consumer response center.

May 04, 2016

I am a retired Telco employee; ATT,GTE & Verizon. I have stated this before: Every telephone number,or real is registered in a Telco. The Billing Dept. Bills the true number. CLID has nothing to do with billing. The TELCO simply does not want to go after the companies who are harassing the end user: You and me!Their rational is money from the perpetrators as well as we the victims! FTC is aware of that and yet they keep telling us how to avoid being scammed. I wonder why they don't do something significant ie, file a law suit or have a Congressional hearing!

May 04, 2016

In reply to by joerobsr

I'm a retired AT&T employee. What you assert sounds like total B.S. . The phone companies can't decide who is scamming. What, they should listen in and based on what they hear decide if it's a scammer? The phone company doesn't make enough on these calls to compensate for the annoyance of their customers. The revenue they gain from scam calls is very very little. They may make a little more on the robo calls, but only a small percentage of robo calls are scamming calls. My guess is that we need new laws and regulations to make spoofing CLID information impossible.
May 04, 2016
all scams
May 04, 2016
Thanks for the information. I am very aware of phone scammers due to the FTC sending out all their great information. I have found out that the scammers do not leave messages if you do not answer your phone. They just hang up, but they do continue to call, multiple times and hang up every time. I then go in my settings on my phone and type in the phone number that keeps calling and block it. Please listen to the police and other authorities and never give out any of you personal information. People do not realize that the scammers threats are a very bad bullying technique. Hang up on them! Thank you FTC!
Phil A.
May 04, 2016
I've had several occasions where the caller ID showed MY name and MY number! These scammers are totally out of control, and need to be reined in -- preferably into Alcatraz, for a couple of centuries. The phone companies have the ability to block these SOBs (Sweet Old Boys, that is), but these scammers are a source of income that they're unwilling to give up. Where are our lawmakers in the midst of all this? Unwilling to bite the hands that feed them, that's where.
May 04, 2016
Recently while watching TV my phone rang. The number comes up on my TV screen. I looked quickly thinking it was one of my kids. I picked up and it was one of those, there's something wrong with your computer scams! I hung up. I went back to look at the number that called,low and behold it was MY phone number!! These idiots are simply amazing. I'll bet I've had at least 6 scam calls in just two weeks....I'm so tired of it. I've gotten if I don't recognize the number I refuse to answer. It's simply disgusting.
May 04, 2016
I have had my phone number used, it shows up on other people's called ID then they call me back and ask why I called them. This happens for a few days every few months. Verizon can't do anything about it, I filed a complaint with the FCC. The only thing that might stop it is if these websites where you can put in a number to call and mask it with any number you choose are shut down. Here is a quick Google list of some of them: [link removed]
August 29, 2016

In reply to by Hv

This exact thing has been happening to me for quite a while now. I spoke with AT&T again today and it is clear that they can do nothing about it. I agree with your assessment of what should be done. Frankly, I don't want to change the phone number I have had for years but that may be the only practical answer to this -- until the new number is captured and it starts all over again.
May 04, 2016
Someone used a voice call on Iphone several times but I can't answer them because I am deaf person. I saved these phone numbers and plan to check with Verizon about my complains. When FB asked me for phone numbers, I refused to release it even to Google too. I don't know where they get my iphone numbers.
May 04, 2016

just wondering why on this site there are numbers 'the people' are giving out of these scammers and the fcc does not set a sting operation. some of these numbers are still in operation, i know this because i keep calling these clowns asking where do they want me to take the money-click is all i get-lol