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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

mmsorok
May 04, 2016
I've had fake calls call me and scamming emails as well.
BertC
May 05, 2016

In reply to by mmsorok

My neighbor has had her own phone number spoofed in fraudulent calls to her. She is dropping wireless phone as a result, though partly its because she has been hacked and/or a phony tech came and connected her phone so it goes thru his server instead of the phone company's. I wish the phone companies could do more to stop this type of spoofing.
AZRat
June 08, 2016

In reply to by BertC

They can spoof landline #s as well ... it's no longer analog and all digital/VOIP. It's depressing ... as if you don't answer any phone they calls will eventually go away as they think it's a bad number ... but if you answer once they know it's a good # and will call and call and call and sell and sell and sell your # to anyone that wants it.
SHIRLEY
July 01, 2016

In reply to by AZRat

HOW CAN WE KNOW IF WE HAVE BEEN SPOOFED???iI HATE ALL THESE CALLS SOMETIMES A FRIEND OR FAMILY CALLS FROM A CALLING CARD OR UNKNOWN NUMBER SO I HAVE TO ANSWER..THE DO NOT CALL LIST DOES NOT WORK
Ravy
July 26, 2016

In reply to by SHIRLEY

Shirley, Get an answering machine and screen ALL calls! Tell your friends and family that this is what you will be doing. Any legit caller should have no problem leaving a message and you can pick up when they say hello. Most of the robocalls and spoofed #'s don't leave any message, they are 'fishing' for a live number. The ones that do leave a message, like lowering your mortgage rate, you can delete. Just remember once you pick up one of these calls you have just confirmed to their system that your number is good and the calls will continue!
huggy4
October 27, 2016

In reply to by Ravy

We now have to deal with robo calls because we choose to use an answering service through our landline provider. I was told after getting dozens of calls from a Sears number that the computer dials the numbers and if it is answered they will call, call, call forever. How do we get around this problem other than not using our message service? We have two adult daughters with potentially life threatening conditions, and need to be able to hear a message if something goes wrong with one of them. I lost my twin brother last July two days before our birthday. I screen phone calls of numbers I do not recognize or that have no name with them. It took forever for someone to notify me due to all the calls we get that we do not answer. We need to find a way to make this stop.
Mr.John K
December 29, 2016

In reply to by Ravy

Hi Ravy i have had problems from the Spook Caller as much as 11 times even i have installed caller baring phone from panasonic landline phones try that and you can fild whos calling.This is mylast straw another call i would give OBSENE sxolding from me. Regds
Lola
December 06, 2017

In reply to by Mr.John K

I bought a Call Blocker that I connected to my landline. It now has 224 phone numbers blocked. These phoney calls are a serious problem!
BobJr
October 31, 2016

In reply to by SHIRLEY

I changed my greeting to say that I don't answer numbers that I don't recognize, and don't call back if no message is left identifying the caller. If you want me to call back, leave a message. I block all numbers that don't identify themselves.
Maxime
December 15, 2016

In reply to by SHIRLEY

914-825-4391 is spoofed number that is hacking people cell phones by sending some links.
starrmist
March 13, 2017

In reply to by AZRat

All the call scams I receive, about 7-10 calls a day, come through my home's land line. And YES, I am signed up with the "Do not Call Registry"!
DT
June 16, 2016

In reply to by BertC

That happens a lot, it's happened to us several times. Why they think you'd actually do business with someone who spoofs your OWN number is anybody's guess. But then, no one ever said criminals are intelligent.
Kiva
November 08, 2016

In reply to by BertC

When I had a landline I use to receive calls from my own phone all the time.Was scammer everytime and I knew it was so I started answering in Pig Latin.Made them angry.
Thom
August 20, 2019

In reply to by Kiva

I received five calls today that list my own name and number on the caller ID. Some didn't leave a message A couple of them did and said something about a license . Hard to understand the message. Total scam.
thanks
November 21, 2016

In reply to by BertC

Thank you ... you just gave me more information ... I finally have paper proof I had been hacked. My cell could be off with battery taken off and suddenly I see other cell ringing with my primary line.
Marked
April 25, 2018

In reply to by BertC

Today I was phone number spoofed in a fraud attempt to get account security information...They actually used my own cell phone number in the caller ID spoof when calling my cell phone - my cell phone number and the spoof on caller ID where identical!!! Not sure I can "block" my own number as I may not be able to access voicemail. What do you do?
CICT
May 09, 2016

In reply to by mmsorok

The below listed phone numbers are the latest known phone numbers to be in use by the IRS Impersonation Scam suspects: (202) 239-1939 (202) 239-2883 (202) 239-8820 (202) 506-9122 (202) 600-9696 (202) 792-8931 (202) 836-9550 (209) 729-3815 (305) 602-3108 (347) 418-0597 (404) 857-1987 (408) 418-0072 (415) 363-0183 (626) 739-3024 (646) 680-0873 (650) 720-8573 (703) 239-6351 (718) 354-8929 (844) 395-7940 (844) 395-7947 (973) 206-4150 (202) 704-3264 (516) 204-0213 (607) 304-3136

Add'l #
May 09, 2016

In reply to by CICT

Add this number to the list (202) 316-0833. Received a call today and knew it was a scam. Please, DO NOT call them back and give them your name and personal information!!
Addendum
May 17, 2016

In reply to by Add'l #

add this number as well 206-472-6290. Just received a call on my office phone claiming I was involved in tax fraud. I was to call the number back to avoid being arrested.
Hung
May 31, 2016

In reply to by Addendum

Received a scam call this morning from 206-472-6290 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 206-472-6290 .What should I do?
Sigyn
June 02, 2016

In reply to by Hung

Received the same type of call today: 202-864-0117 / I also did not answer and reported immedietley to TIGA and FTC.
Fitgirl
September 20, 2016

In reply to by Hung

I rec'd a call on Sunday from 845-363-5386 saying the exact same thing and it was a robot message from Brianna Scott from the US Treasury. I didn't call back, knew it was fraud.
Teetee09
September 27, 2016

In reply to by Fitgirl

I received two calls in the last 2 days of a person impersonating a police officer n saying they worked for the dept of u.s.treasury and n saying I owed tax which is a lie I told them I was gonna report them n it was a scam immediately hung up add this number to the list#1-410-216-0473,also+1-919-355-5841
starlight
April 07, 2017

In reply to by V Lee

It works very well on my VoIP phone nomorobo.com
Principessa
February 21, 2018

In reply to by Brandychase

We use no more robo as well and I still get incessant calls from the number starting with letter v or will spoof numbers my area , area code yet I know are fake numbers also I am on do not call list . And this doesn’t help either . I also never answer my phone if legitimate person they can leave message and I will call them back .. this is very annoying all the calls .
dibdab
February 16, 2018

In reply to by V Lee

Yes this works very well for some numbers, but today I got a call saying it was my grandson, with his number, this does not work if you have the number in your contacts!! Ugh
Tytomkit
May 21, 2019

In reply to by V Lee

Sorry everyone can’t afford Nomorobo.!
Mey
July 07, 2017

In reply to by Add'l #

Add this number 20239009. Called and left a message that it's a federal offence next time I don't answers my phone.
Rick Witty
May 10, 2016

In reply to by DM

The IRS doesn't make phone calls.Instead they send you a bill through the US Mail !!!! Then they try to work a deal as to where you can back the debt. This is a complete and a total scam don't fall for it .I didn't
seeking knowledge
May 26, 2016

In reply to by Rick Witty

Then why are we required to provide our ph# on our tax returns? Is there a way to avoid giving this info to the IRS?
lifegazer
June 03, 2016

In reply to by seeking knowledge

Yes. Do not enter your phone number if you do not want to. That is not a deal breaker for the IRS. The IRS will usually send you a letter if they want to contact you. Then you may get a follow up call if they need to talk to you. Normally that's to set up an appointment to meet with you in cases such as audits. They will not threaten you unless you have ignored their letters of payment or missing a scheduled meeting.
Layten1
June 23, 2016

In reply to by Rick Witty

I Just Got Called -Saying They Were IRS & I Have A Case Against Me.Lol
jathas
June 24, 2016

In reply to by Layten1

I'm pretty sure that almost everyone has gotten those same calls. I know I have, LOL.
whitesmith10
September 15, 2016

In reply to by Rick Witty

Someone just called me and I recognize that number from somewhere but I never answered then it was a male saying he was from a corporations idk and he said if anyone who is 17 uses my phone and I said no (I'm 13 ) and he asked me if my parents used my phone and that's it , it was a weird call idk what it was

Edward
September 13, 2017

In reply to by Rick Witty

Screw with them.keep them on the line if you have time.I did that for 10 minutes and pissed the guy off.no more calls from them
BillyBob
March 08, 2018

In reply to by Edward

Yes Edward! I’m retired and I keep them on the line feeding bogus information and asking stupid questions about irrelevant things. It’s quite fun.
MaryMag
May 16, 2018

In reply to by BillyBob

I've received for two days in a row calls from a "+N" showing in Caller ID. Any thoughts???
Trayctray
December 19, 2018

In reply to by Edward

I did same thing, told them they are stupid to think they can keep trying to scam AMERICAN CITIZENS and get away with it. Hopefully the #s will help trace their origins.
United We Stand
May 23, 2019

In reply to by Edward

I like that idea; inconvenience them like they do to us answering all these ridiculous phone calls ... I may try it ...
terrid
May 10, 2016

In reply to by Another #

Got one today from (202) 704-4485 Said they were the IRS Don't believe it!!!!