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.
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.
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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.
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In reply to I recently received a phone by Distressed in a mess
That's a scam. The government is not giving free grant money to people.
If you call back, they might ask for your checking account number so they can “deposit your grant directly into your account,” or tell you to send money to pay a “processing fee.” Even if you send money, you won't get the grant they promised. They will take your money and disappear. Read about government grant scams.
In reply to I receive calls everyday from by SandyP
I have received NUMEROUS phone calls over the past couple of weeks from phone numbers with my area code back home in Michigan. Right now, I am staying in Houston. However, the calls are different numbers every time. Once I answered, it was a robocall about Marriott vacations. Another couple of times, it was about Last Chance warranty offer on a car I never owned. I called back several numbers, and I always get a disconnected number message every time...even minutes later. I have received calls from several people in the same area code noting they were calling back and had missed a call from my number; I had not called them. I told them about what I was experiencing, and we agree that someone is fraudulently SOMEHOW using other people's numbers in the same area code as ours to robocall, and it prevents a caller from being able to report the number as the person who has the number is not making the calls and has no idea it is happening with their number. How do we report this...I am on the National Do-Not-Call Registry, yet I cannot report these calls, and I am tired of them.