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When your phone rings and it looks like a local call, you may be more likely to answer. Scammers count on this and can easily fake caller ID numbers. They even can match the first six digits of your own number, which is called “neighbor spoofing.” The urge to answer can be tough to resist, since you might worry it’s a neighbor who needs help, or the school nurse.

If you see a number like this on your caller ID, remember that it could be faked. Letting it go to voicemail is one option. If you do pick up and don’t recognize the caller — hang up.

But what else can you do? Call blocking services that block or flag unwanted calls can help. These services include mobile apps, features built into your mobile phone, cloud-based services, call-blocking devices, or services provided by your phone service carrier. Some are free and others cost money.

You also can register your number with the Do Not Call Registry. The Do Not Call Registry is designed to stop sales calls from legitimate companies, so it won’t stop calls from scammers. But it could make it easier for you to spot scam calls. If a company is ignoring the Registry, there’s a good chance it’s a scam.

You also can help by reporting unwanted calls. We take the phone numbers you report and release them to the public each business day. This helps phone carriers and other partners that are working on call blocking solutions. Your reports also help law enforcement identify the people behind illegal calls.


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.
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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.

March 23, 2018

In reply to by TomW

What good would it do to warn them someone is spoofing their number? They can't do anything about it. The person spoofing their number is using VOIP, which can allow them to enter any phone number they wish to show up on caller id.
Don't use your…
March 23, 2018

In reply to by KarenWI

You've got that right!! Mh cell # has been spoofed and it's much more annoying than the scam calls. People return calls and swear I called them, bless me out and turn my # over to the police.
January 24, 2019

In reply to by KarenWI

I am an owner of said spoofed number. I came to this discussion board to see what I can do to get my number freed from this! It has been a nightmare for me! I get calls every day from people saying I called them when I clearly have not. The worst part is that they will argue with me and say I did call them and I have been called some horrendous things from people due to this. I try not answering my phone but these people will continuously call my number until I pick up. My voicemail clearly says my name so it’s pretty clear that I’m not a business. I don’t know what to do at this point.
S.A. Douglas
January 31, 2018
What is the FTC doing to stop these scam calls? When will the FTC stop them? If not the FTC - who is responsible to protect U.S. citizens from these KNOWN attempted scams?
YOU protect YOU
February 09, 2018

In reply to by S.A. Douglas

These scam calls are coming from digital sources outside of the U.S. As someone who works in telecommunications with access to the tools to do so, I can tell these numbers are impossible to track down, any attempts to do meet dead-ends. So they may be KNOWN attempted scams, but good trucking luck tracking down even which network on the INTERNET(Not phone line or cellular) that the calls came from, let alone which entities are leading the scams. YOU are responsible for protecting you from SCAMS. The FTC has done wonders in stopping and preventing some of the most elaborate scams to this day. Be appreciative that your government even cares to put together a task force to stop idiots from being scammed out of their money.
May 08, 2018

In reply to by YOU protect YOU

You cannot stop this. I've worked in telecom for over a decade and even had my number spoofed repeatedly. eventually they move on to another one. Just be diligent and ignore them or just have some fun with them and waste their time. "Oh, please tell me more about how I can quickly pay off my student loans with an apple gift card!"
August 20, 2018

In reply to by Agrees

I disagree. Most telecommunications today are IP based, verifiable and trackable. If the IP adddress cannot be tracked or traced then then the call should be dropped - like bad emails.
January 31, 2018
I still don't see how this is a scam? A scam usually means money is involved. The urge to answer? What? Of course your going to answer even if you recognize the number or not. If you don't know the person or they threaten you for money. Like pretending that there the IRS. FTC are you fake. xD
January 31, 2018

In reply to by Sandman

The scam comes in when they ask you a question and you answer yes. Then they use your "yes" answer to manipulate certain situations in business dealings (scams) wherein you said "yes" and then they claim you said yes to this or that arrangement on tape and it is hard to dispute when they have your "voice" on tape.
February 07, 2018

In reply to by spots

This actually hasn't happened yet. It's speculation that scammers are working toward this. They do however, prey on people who may not be scam saavy to try to get personal information from them.
Velvet Hammer
March 14, 2018

In reply to by Barb

Yes Barb. This has happened. Back when they deregulated the phone system, comm companies used this technique to "slam" customers. They would call inviting people to change long distance to their service and if you used a key word that they recorded, they would coopt your phone number and then charge you outrageous rates for long distance calls. Its an old scam, but it works.
August 15, 2018

In reply to by spots

My family and I have recently been getting these calls with someone asking a question like you said that you would easily say yes to . When I call a pharmacy to see if a prescription is ready , to verify your identity the automated system does say .. are you calling to see if your order is ready please say yes or no. So if you do get a call like this don't verbally answer not even to say no .just hang up right away and take note of the number . One thing I will do on my cell phone is not just block it , but I will save it as ' DO NOT ANSWER ' then I'll know for sure it's a bad number . I do hope there will be a solution for these annoying type of calls soon ! Like other people of mentioned we pay a lot of money for our cell phones and it is upsetting to pay money to get harassed.
August 16, 2018

In reply to by Edge

I use my cell phone for both work and personal use and this is becoming very frustrating and I would like to see the practice made illegal and resources plied to prosecute it.
January 31, 2018
Hello... I am being harassed by these peopleei all day , every day. I just got one of their fake calls 2 minutes ago and this is every day , many times a day or night. Each number is a familiar area code and each is blocked after the call. Please help cause I feel like a target every single day. For months now.!!!
January 31, 2018

In reply to by Dawn

When I got too many of these calls, I called back and asked them not to call. They did have the same prefix as my number. I directly told them I was not the person they were looking for and never to call again. I was firm. I never received a call from them again. Don't let them intimidate you. Someone who engages in passive aggressive activity to harass people like this is usually paranoid.
April 26, 2018

In reply to by anonymous

they don't answer your call so it's impossible to make this request.
Hate the spoofers
June 11, 2018

In reply to by anonymous

I think you missed the point! If you called back a spoofed number, the person you called didn’t call you. They are also a victim, as they are now getting calls from angry people that they did not call. Spoofing disguises the real caller, and makes it impossible to call them back.
September 13, 2018

In reply to by anonymous

I have over 500 blocked numbers but I can't call any of those numbers back because the call hangs up immediately and does not go through.
January 31, 2018

In reply to by Dawn

Don't answer the calls unless you specifically know the number and let it go to voice mail, simple!
June 10, 2018

In reply to by Edward

Not good enough. I don't want the calls, period, there are too many and they come at inconvenient times when I don't want the phone to ring unless it's an emergency. has the best call blocking service I've found. It's free for VOIP landlines.
January 31, 2018

In reply to by Dawn

Get a recording device, call a fax number and record the sound it makes. When you answer an unknown number, play the fax sound. If it is a robot call it will hang up and automatically remove your number from the data base. These people exchange data bases and soon your number will be gone from all databases.
February 03, 2018

In reply to by DD

Tried that on our unlisted, unpublished former Home number which was turned into the phone from hell. So tried the fax machine routine. It did not work. They just kept calling. Finally in desperation we pulled the plug on the phone so it does not ring anymore, doesn’t go to leave a message, just a non functioning phone anymore. We only use for out going calls and faxes. Interestly they now call my wife and my cell phone. We just don’t answer calls we do not know. Verizon caller ID is not worth a wooden nickel. Had free 10 day trial and not one number that called showed a name and number. Worthless and they want $3 a month not to get any info on who is called my. Too much money being made to stop spoofers from calling to steal from you.
July 26, 2018

In reply to by DD

Dear DD, I looooooooooooove your idea in regard to recording the fax machine sound and playing it back. I am going to have to try that! Thanks!
January 31, 2018
Trident Surveys/ marketing etc., keep calling a telephone number that we had to receive from our internet company to keep down our already costly fees. We have never used this number; we never will ( unless as a fax number dedicated for this use only ( but we don’t need a fax number anymore, so we won’t ever have the ability nor the desire for the landline number ). We use only our mobile devices for our phones, and that is never going to change; it is easier to not answer the Unknown caller, regardless of the number that is in our area. No ID- no answer. Like this article indicates, a voice mail might be answered by us if we want to have contact with the caller. Plus it is easier to block numbers on the mobile than a landline that has a do not call status, which is of no use when disreputable companies call regardless. Good to see this article for those who are being disturbed by disingenuous, scammers especially!
June 01, 2018

In reply to by Shambala

Now these scam/telemarketer companies are listing a name of the actual person along with a phone number that is similar to your own when they call on a cell phone. I have received 3 calls within the last 4 hours from the same telemarketer using three different numbers and three different names.
January 31, 2018
On our mobile phones e receive many calls from various numbers starting with 215-771- ..... Our mobile phones are both 215-771 #'s.
January 31, 2018
Spam calls are major annoyance. It seems to me that a very simple solution would be to have a simple screening app on a mobile phone - or maybe carriers could do this. It would work like this: 1. Consumer creates a whitelist of all allowed callers (usually the contact list on a mobile phone). 2. If a call is received from a whitelist caller, it is put through. 3. Any other caller would be asked a relatively complex question that they must answer correctly (this could be a Turing-type question to test for robots, or a question (or series of questions) that will help deter human marketers. An incorrect answer will cause the phone not to ring and go to voice mail (or reject the call). With enough varied questions, I think we could eliminate virtually all unwanted phone ringing. For people who are legitimate callers, they will leave a voice mail.
January 31, 2018
I have reported many numbers to the Do Not Call Registry several times but they continue to call. Very frustrating
January 31, 2018

In reply to by patk

patk, Do Not Call Registry is designed to work with legitimate companies only. So, you and I will continue to receive calls from scammers.
February 02, 2018

In reply to by patk

The Do Not Call List is designed for you to report your number to be removed from calling lists. It is not designed for you to report numbers that you don’t want calls from. That doesn’t help anything.
FTC Staff
February 02, 2018

In reply to by ZLH

Actually, we do want people to report unwanted calls. When you report unwanted calls to the FTC, we take the phone numbers people complain about and release them each business day. This helps telecommunications carriers and other industry partners that are working on call blocking solutions.

February 26, 2018

In reply to by FTC Staff

But this doesn't work when we ae getting calls that are spamming a local phone number illeglally.
FTC Staff
February 27, 2018

In reply to by anon

Actually it does work for spoofed numbers too. This FTC article about our release of consumer Do Not Call complaint data explains that telecommunications companies use the call detail information to help identify which calls should be blocked or flagged. Even if a scammer fakes caller ID information — so the number you see isn’t the scammer’s real number — reporting it can make a difference. Call blocking technologies also can help prevent this kind of spoofed traffic.

April 13, 2018

In reply to by FTC Staff

Hi Bridget, Is there anything that I can do as the owner of a phone number they are spoofing? I receive multiple calls every day from people saying that I called them, but I didn’t. I have had this phone number for 10+ years and am very reluctant to have it changed, but having it associated with something fraudulent concerns me, as do the many calls from people thinking I called them. Is there any way to block my phone number so they can’t use it?
January 31, 2018
I receive these pretty much on a daily basis. I never answer. Super annoying.
January 31, 2018
So, my friends in Government, why don't you fix this?
January 31, 2018
I get 3 to 4 calls a day. I block the numbers from calling again but in 3 or 4 days they start again. I never answer
Mike Maus
January 31, 2018
One finds it hard to appreciate what the FTC is completely helpless in stopping this problem. We are retired and receive at least 5 of these scam calls each day. DO SOMETHING for pete's sake!!!!!!!!!
January 31, 2018

In reply to by Mike Maus

If you new something about the technology you would understand how costly what you ask would be. Just what we need another gazillion dollar government program. When you can figure out how to do this without reaching into my wallet, have at it. In the mean time, deal with it. 5 calls a day is nothing, live with it like the rest of us or turn you phone off for pete's sake!!!!!!!
January 31, 2018
I thought the unwanted calls would go away when I dropped my home phone service, but they haven't. I get neighbor spoofing calls on my cell phone all the time. I got the APP True Caller and it helps.
January 31, 2018
Regarding neighbor spoofing, I got a call that caller ID said was from my own cell phone.
Reggie D
January 31, 2018
Question: Are the criminals spoofing active phone numbers? Are they calling my number, when I don't answer turn around and call someone using my number? I've had voice messages from people I don't know saying they were returning my call. I've tried returning a call to a unknown number and get someone who says they never called.
June 22, 2018

In reply to by Reggie D

Yes and no. Scammers spoof active numbers, but probably not because they called you and you didn't answer. They simply type a number into their software, often using the same area code of the geographic area they are targeting. The number they put in their software is most likely random. They don't care if it might be a working number or not, so if yours got used, it most likely was not chosen intentionally. All the scammers really care about is that some number other than their own showa up on your caller ID. And they know that if it looks like a local number, you are more likely to answer the call.
January 31, 2018
Been getting calls from "Senior Care"...they disconnect as soon as I tell them I am on the DO NOT CALL REGISTRY and that I am reporting them to the FTC. When I call the number back, I get City Elementary in Dalton, GA. I have reported these calls to the Dalton Police Dept. and I have spoken to the City Elementary Administrator in Dalton.
January 31, 2018
I have Do Not Call. I get numerous calls from supposedly local numbers every day. Some appear to be from the library, a local resident, a business. How does it help to report these numbers and get those entities in trouble? I have made the decision to let ALL calls go to voice mail, if it's a real call, I pick up, if it's a dishonest telemarketer, they won't leave a message. I absolutely do not want to let the jerks know they have reached a valid number so they can keep calling over and over.
February 02, 2018

In reply to by Sharon

Reporting the numbers used to call you does not get the true owner of the number in trouble; in the majority of cases they had nothing to do with any of it. The scammers are spoofing (using) the numbers randomly or by some other means, such as a list they acquired somehow. Any number can be used to make it look to your caller ID that it is the number being called from, even if they are calling from the other side of the planet. It is likely that your own number has been used at some point as the number “making” scam calls. Also, when your machine answers a call, the robocall systems do not consider your number as invalid, just unanswered at that time. It is usually then just moved to the bottom of the list to be re-called later, actually increasing the number of calls you get. The best way to handle them is to actually answering them, do not let the caller speak to you or start their canned speech (you will have to aggressively interrupt them), but immediately ask the name and contact information of the company they allege to represent, though you will rarely get it, and inform them you are registered on the Do Not Call List, request your number be immediately removed from their list, and inform them any subsequent calls will be reported to the FTC. Don’t be surprised if they ask you for your number. If they do, that means the person is probably actually removing it from their list. This is because the people “calling” you, especially if you hear the tale-tell sign of a few seconds delay before they start speaking, are working in a call center and don’t have access to the number that the computer dialed for them. In these cases, usually they DO have the ability to remove your number from the list that their company is using, but only if you give them your number to input the stop on. From experience, I have found if I get very upset at the person “calling”, they are much less likely to do the “stop calling” input on your behalf, and instead just hit the button for you to be retried again. Unfortunately, it is rarely the actual person you speak to that would handsomely profit from whatever they are trying to sell you or whatever. They are usually just some low paid, minimum wage worker in a foreign country. Whoever is employing them is the evil mastermind behind these annoying calls, so treating them badly will not make them want to “help” you. It’s a complete pain, but the only way to reduce these calls, one company at a time. Another thing to try is to contact your phone carrier, especially for cell phones, and explain the problem. There is sometimes a way for them to reduce these calls, at least for a while, with an input that they do. The only real and workable solution to this problem would be to outlaw the use of applications that allow users to “spoof” numbers on caller ID, making it REQUIRED that all calls show valid origin phone numbers and business names. There would still be those that got around this and used illegal software to circumvent such a law, but it would make it a lot harder and definitely reduce the incidence of it for the average phone customer.
June 22, 2018

In reply to by ZLH

There is already a law that makes spoofing illegal when used for fraudulent purposes. Obviously, the law is ineffective. Also, while I have, a few times, been able to get legitimate companies to take me off their call list, by asking politely, and mentioning the DNC list, I have never been able to get scammers to do so using that method. Scammers have no fear of being reported when they do not use their own number. Or, if they are using robocalls with a call back number, you are probably calling back to a foreign country so, again, no fear of repercussions. The only times I have been able to get scammers to quit calling me repeatedly, is by putting aside my inclination to be polite, and being as rude as possible. One time, my adult son took the phone out of my hand and told the guy off. It was the last time he called me. I do not believe these are low level, minimum wage workers. They probably are working for someone else, but they are trained scammers and get paid based on their success rate in conning people to give up their money. They do not deserve politeness. BTW, I have never been able to get "Rachel" from Cardholder Services to quit calling me. Or, the car warranty people. Have you? Their employees might actually be low level minimum wage workers, but no method seems to work with them to get you off their list.
January 31, 2018
How about when I get an email purporting to be from my daughter? I have learned to hover my cursor over her name to check the email address. If it isn't recognizable, I delete the message.