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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.

Scams

346 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.
  • 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 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.

Estea
February 03, 2018
For 3 months I’ve gotten calls daily or several times a week on my Spectrum lan line from Lewisburg, OH, each call has 937 583 and then every call has the last 4 numbers changed so in reporting these numbers it’s impossible for my phone provider to block. I asked Spectrum if they could do a block of any call from Leeisburg as it is a small town but Spectrum says they couldn’t do that! Why not? I have been harassed with calls all times sometimes waking me up in the morning. I too am fed up not to mention Veronica or Rachel from Cardholder services who call, I got one this week and pressed 1 to speak to a real person. Told them they better not call me again or I’m reporting them, hung up on me. That was from a local number. What to do?
flawpc
February 06, 2018

Consumer Need: A Sense of Mindfulness on Consumer Thought & Concern      Note that the article presumes wrongly, omitting essentially important information and, at the same time, it is misleading. The article provides, in part: ....      You also can register your number with the Do Not Call Registry. [   http:// www.donotcall.gov /             ] 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. [           http://complaints.donotcall.gov/ complaint/complaintcheck.aspx       ]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.      Upon reading the above, The Do Not Call Registry does'nt cover scammers, and anyone who has called their number or visited their site already knows you can file a complaint with them too. Shifting to the paragraph that follows, one should have some mindfulness the consumer is often still searching for essential help because scammers are'nt covered in the preceding paragraph on the Do Not Call Registry. Perhaps in hope to some degree, positive thinking, a consumer can almost naturally perceive the underlying link to "reporting unwanted calls", is to a form of reporting other than the Do Not Call Registry. Too often, the results are inevitable: unfortunate wasted effort, in consumers making no progress and discovering they're wrong.

Washington
February 05, 2018
What do I do when people are spoofing my number? I get calls asking me why I called someone, but I never called that person!
jag
February 06, 2018
I keep getting calls all day/night from UMASS MEMORIAL, as I block the number they call back with a different number. Now they are using numbers of people I KNOW THAT CALL ME so I have to answer thinking it's a friend or family !!!!!!!!
Nolan
February 06, 2018
The frustrating part is that everyone (including FTC) tell you options many of which cost victims more money and are likely not to work when enforcement of the do-not-call registry would ....
georgiapat
February 09, 2018
It is easy to say, "Just ignore the call." I have to look at the phone to know that it is *another* spoof call. I get multiple calls a day on my cell phone, and have begun receiving them on my home phone, too. It is a huge time waster. It is a constant irritant. We need a national solution.
KatChow
February 10, 2018
I started answering "Madison County Criminal Justice Department, Officer Dooly speaking. I know we can't stop these vulture calls but the scam calls have dropped from 15 a day to about 2 a week.
Bill
February 15, 2018
I believe carriers could do a lot more in seeking out these offenders. Don't provide them service.
GEM
February 15, 2018
This is how spyware and malware is inserted into your cell phone, also voicemail spies gain access to your phone just by your answering. Do NOT answer calls from unknown sources. Once someone "gets into" your phone, it is very difficult to remove them and near impossible to remove yourself from remote surveillance systems. Also do not post your cell phone number or home address on any social media sites, public, private, or otherwise.
My house burned down
February 16, 2018
I keep getting calls from this home improvement company from local 864 numbers and you're right when you call the person back they have no clue. So I've started telling each one of the Home Improvement guys that called me that my house burnt down and there's no need for improvements right now until it's rebuilt and even then it would be new and shouldn't need any improvements. But they insist that I may need some home improvements and I finally have to hang up on them. It's like they don't understand anything past the scripted information they read.
MDW302
March 14, 2018

In reply to by My house burned down

Some people get a great deal of satisfaction in wasting the time of the spoofer, leading them on and giving them fake information!
sick-n-tired-of-this
February 20, 2018
I've started a "campaign".... Instead of blocking the number with an app I will call the number with my ID blocked. And then inform the true owner of the problem. After a brief conversation explaining the situation they will call their service provider and complain. We as consumers have to start with our carriers/service providers and by complaining in large numbers put THEM on the spot to stop this annoying scammer behavior. The thing is the providers have the technology and the means to stop this before the call even reaches you. Here's why... you get a call matching your area code and prefix, it has name in the caller ID. That caller ID is provided by the carrier who services (and bills you) that number. Their "system" is able to determine where the call originated, internally from their system or EXTERNALLY. So don't be apathetic and ignore or block the number. Call the number back (especially if there was a caller ID with a name) via a different phone (and block the ID with *67) and kindly, very kindly inform who ever answers of what just happened. Every person I've spoken with has been appreciative and says they'll be calling their carrier to complain.
Waste-of-time
May 08, 2018

In reply to by sick-n-tired-of-this

And it doesn't do ANYTHING but cause more headache. The solution will only be purely technological. That said, carriers can't "do" anything about it, because the problem lies within the structure of the phone system itself. It's an exploitation of a vulnerability in the protocols used to connect two endpoints (you and the entity initiating the call). Calling the number back that appears on caller ID only can warn someone that their number is being used, and nothing else. All you're doing by calling them is perpetuating the problem because now they've received an annoying call too. Reporting it to a carrier doesn't do any good, as they can't trace it back either, for the same reasons you can't. Reporting it to FTC/FCC/etc is of no use, for the same reasons. Answering is a dangerous game, because they can use your voice against you later, by recording it and spoofing OTHER automated systems in other ways (such as "authenticating" themselves as you to something that can do a lot more damage than an annoying phone call. The "Do not call" registry just puts your number on a list that can be harvested, which only serves to perpetuate the problems further. The problem is in the *technology itself*, and until the underlying system that modern phones use is *changed* to make this activity impossible, it's not going to go away. Eventually this will happen, just like the original "copper pair" system and it's switching/routing system were replaced by the defective system in use today. But it costs a LOT of money to revamp systems as complex as phone systems are. It's annoying, but there's nothing you, the authorities, the carrier service reps, the FCC, the FTC, or any lawmaker can do to resolve the underlying issues. This should be obvious by now... We've been dealing with it for how long? We're all sick of it, but we've got about as much chance of stopping it by protest as we have in stopping the sun from coming up every morning. Best methods to deal with this: 1. Don't answer unknown numbers. 2. Don't give your number to every Tom, Dick, and Harry that asks for it. Essential entities only. This minimizes it's presence "in the wild". 3. They don't leave voicemail; Legit callers will, if it's important. 4. Don't call the number back, all you're doing is creating more chaos, because the person that answers (if they're smart, they won't anyway) - doesn't have any idea who you are and now you're just extending the frustration to someone else. 5. Don't install apps on your phone that purport the ability to block these calls... There's a reasonable chance you're just feeding your number back into a list that they will inevitably use somewhere else down the line. That's how it works, folks... It's simply best to ignore them. Sorry.
reinig
February 20, 2018
I'm getting calls from neighbors saying I call them and hang up. So someone is neighbor spoofing using my phone number, which is infuriating. Is there anything that can be done to trace these calls and end this?
ketlian
February 22, 2018
It is a shame that there are people out there spending their time devising scams rather than a cure for cancer, but I would rather be proactive. Everyone I know understands that I do not answer the phone immediately for anyone other than my husband, and they leave a message. The scammers don't leave messages, unless it is preprogrammed as part of their robocall. No biggie, I delete them. There is no law that says you HAVE to answer your phone immediately. It is a tool, not your master. 30 years ago, your phone was a t home, or work and if someone called when you were driving, it was no big deal. Phone calls, texts and facebook should not control us, we are not their slaves. If the ringing bugs you, turn down the volume. I use my phone for business, and I still do not answer every call immediately. My days are less stressful because of it
knockitoff
February 24, 2018
Amazing the spoofing, robo calls are increasing as pay services are popping up also amazing I've been on the do not call list for years...Guess the telemarketing companies fund a lot of election campaigns...
Sleone
February 26, 2018
happens to me all the time. I just got an angry text from someone who claims I called them 5 times today. In fact I never called them, they called me. I don't quite understand why scammers do this or what they might actually gain from it.
drdon36
February 27, 2018
it all falls on the ADMIN to the VOIP system that scammers use. I was admin to our cities VOIP system and you can make any number you wish to go out as caller ID, for example our police depart private line was 867-5309. So with that being said, the admin to the system should be held accountable for the made up numbers. It should be made that they have to adhere to the numbers with in their range and that heavy fines will be issued to scammers.
MarkyMark
February 28, 2018
Everyone should call their phone provider to confirm that you are the only one authorized to use your number. Google your own cell phone number and see if your name is attached to it.
Bambino
March 02, 2018
I found out I'm on the other end of this. Yes, I get these harassing calls, but I just got notified that my number was spoofed so when these telemarketers call it appears as my number. From what I can tell, there is nothing I can do.
OldLadyMV
March 06, 2018
Received numerous calls from phones with same area code and first 3-digits. Never answered the calls and later checked voicemail -- never any messages. Until, some months ago a person left a message asking me to stop calling her. Recently, a man left a message asking why I was constantly calling him. I finally called my cell carrier and spoke with a technician who said my phone had been hacked. She made some changes and said that I should turn off my phone and then restart it. That did the trick! No more calls coming in asking me to stop calling them.
Donny1
March 07, 2018
Way back in 2008, I used a online service which seemingly had a U.S. phone number for computer problems / issues regarding technical help. I had no idea the call was routed to INDIA where / when at that time in my life, I was far more trusting with sites which claimed to give technical support... They requested that I go to a specific website, where I stupidly connected to their server, and they said I had multiple issues with my computer...They actually fixed the one issue I had, but now they had my phone number and my full name and credit card #... They requested my address but I refused. I immediately told my credit card carrier and got a new card / number issued.. Long story short, to this day I've been getting spam & spoofed phone calls that have been nothing but harassment, trying to sell me things, and they've PASSED my info to MANY other scammers and have called me all times if the day and night... In the pass, I got angry, cussed vile things, but now I just don't answer. I'm committed to not answering these calls, which mostly comprise of my area code spoofed following a number which closely matches my suffix. They almost never leave messages, but when they do it's always scam stuff. However, just today I got another message ( 6 seconds long ) from these same series of spoofed / local numbers, and there was what sounded like a gun being fired in the background... I think they are really angry, now that I am no longer answering...lol.
Jay G
March 09, 2018
Do not bother to call the "Attorney GENERAL 317*232*6330" ALL THEY DO IS SEND YOU A FORM TO FILL OUT THEN WRITE THE ADDRESS OF THE CALLER AND GET THEIR LETTER BACK NO SUCH ADDRESS. IN OTHER WORDS THEY ARE DO NOTHING TO HELP US!!!! ASK THE STATE POLICE, THEY TO HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM AND CAN DO NOTHING, WITH THE BLOCKING AND SCREENING CALL SYSTEM THEY HAVE..
Michael T.
March 10, 2018
Why is it that the telecommunication companies can't stop scammers from spoofing Caller ID? Also, I have found that when I call back a local number, it's a number that has been disconnected. This tells me that the scammers are able to hack into telecommunication companies' own files to locate non-working numbers. Don't the telecom companies have some responsibility in this?
FTC Staff
March 12, 2018

In reply to by Michael T.

The FTC shares the phone numbers people report to the Do Not Call registry with telecommuncations providers.

The telecommunications providers are working on call blocking solutions, and many of those solutions rely on blacklists (databases of numbers that have been reported as the source of illegal calls). Companies use the information the FTC provides 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.

Quaker
March 12, 2018
This number keeps calling me. Does anyone recognize it or have an idea what it is? V312125713000673
Rainney
March 13, 2018
I've had 4 calls today between my cell and land line. I have a land line phone that has the capability to block calls. I just reached the 250 number limit on my landline. I had to delete some of the blocked numbers so I could add 2 more blocked numbers. I had one call on thanksgiving...claiming to be from Medicare. I had less than kind words for her. The gall on these clowns is unbelievable.
Frank v
April 19, 2018

In reply to by Rainney

Me too. Made comments today for my home and cell numbers. Since March 2017 getting calls from hometown numbers same first 6 numbers and cell first 6 numbers. Had to delete 50 numbers from home phone because I reached the 250 limit also. Then they kept calling and blocked them again and again. FTC, AT&T, CABLEVISION no help. Put nomorobo on home voip account, stops some numbers. But spammed, spoofed numbers will not stop.
MDW302
March 14, 2018
Unfortunately, using your carrier's "block" or blocking the number is only blocking a legitimate phone number that has been scammed. My phone is issued for work and it is publicized. I deal with the public, so I get 2-3 calls a day asking what I wanted and I have to explain I did not call to a disbelieving person on the other end. I get another half-dozen, local calls a day from a number with the same area code and 3-digit exchange. If I block it, it is an innocent person's number. Now, I never answer any of them. If it was important they will leave a message.
Ikasamashi
March 17, 2018
Just FYI, I just made a payment on my credit card and a service popped up stating that by providing my phone number will help ensure my security of said credit card. I was about to fill it out as ive done so many times, until i read the fine print which stated that by giving my phone number, i agree to get autodialer calls from affiliated services from said credit card. So theres your fake callers, you agreed and its not illegal. A trade off for securing whats most important for your phone number to be traded practically infinitely. Because even if it is legal for that company to call you, once the affiliates get your number, im sure they illegally give your number out.
Fed Up!
March 19, 2018
We just don't answer unknown or unavailable numbers. If it's somene we know calling from a different number or important, they'll leave a message. I recently blocked some numbers through the Verizon Wireless site. It's only good for so many days, but at least it's been much quieter for about two weeks now. Those numbers are: 231-216-7044, 616-426-8829, and 231-570-5082. If only there was a permanent solution for these deplorable people!! For starters, phone companies could help making the blocks permanent.
SorryNOTSorry
March 19, 2018
I am responding to one of the older comments about an air horn. I was originally getting calls from multiple numbers at least 10 times a day and i got fed up with it. So everytime somebody called and i didnt know the number and they didnt have a valid reason for calling other then to scam me they got hit with an airhorn in their ear. Quite frankly the government was doing nothing so I did
tnmorgen
March 26, 2018
What about when it supposedly comes from MY number??? I'm getting so many of these, that it's beyond annoying.
Person with a …
March 26, 2018
If a call comes in without a name attached, or is from out of state or out of country, I answer and immediately hang up. Then I block their number. I don’t just let it keep ringing then go to my voicemail because then I am wasting more time listening to the message they leave.
Justices
March 30, 2018
I am totally sick and tired of these robot calls, even when I rush to answer,the is no one or a prompt to press to be removed. This is just not harassment it is also dangerous for the receiver, I fell rushing for the phone.??? something need to be done, but how, since they are using local area codes,with internet devices.???
Fed up
April 06, 2018
The calls I get come from local numbers as well. Except, the call locations change when I change location. When I go to work, the calls start coming in from surrounding towns. When I go on vacation, same thing, calls come from surrounding towns. If I turn off location services will this help? Because they can obviously see where I am?
Nick
April 11, 2018
Some of the spoof calls I've been getting are coming from China. They call twice and both calls are spoofed with my people from my area. The second type I've gotten are recorded messages in Chinese.
Cory
April 16, 2018
Why are the VOIP SIP providers not blacklisted if they continue to allow customers to spoof caller ID? We can stop all this with a simple policy of putting these providers on notice to police their customers and if not, blacklist the VOIP SIP provider completely from US networks. We should be doing this RIGHT NOW!
Frank v
April 19, 2018
Since 3/25/17 between the data breaches and health care companies hacks. I get the neighborhood phishing scam with same first six #s 516-628-xxxx, 5146,5820,2579,5228,8206,6766,8646,4431,9078,2454,7973,4627,1434,4229,3264,5279,2127,& about 20 more. They never leave a message, most are out of service. Some are from real numbers but not those who have them. Notified FTC, Cablevision can't do anything, nomorobo can't stop calls, Same issue with CELL PHONE number, first 6 numbers same, then diff last 4, numbers not in service or no answer, FTC notified, AT&T can't do anything.
Kerry
April 21, 2018
If your caller ID shows "WCF" and what looks like a local call (your area code and even your neighborhood 3 digit prefix) DO NOT ANSWER! WCF indicates they are using spoofing software to mask the call origins and it is pure spam or phishing. Also many calls lately in my area pretending to be the local electrical utility either threatening to shut off the power unless a pre-paid charge card number is provided OR they try to convince you that you can get "senior citizen rate discount" on your light bill (this is to try to get you to reveal your birth date that they can use to steal your identity). Since I worked for the local power company for the previous 10 years I know there are no such discounts so I told the caller (who had a heavy Southeast Asian accent) that I knew she was a lying scammer before I hung up. So don't give any information to anyone who claims to be the power company or any other utility. If you are unsure, tell them you need a number to call them right back. That will usually cause them to hang up and you'll know it was a scam. I find the only downside to being recently retired is being home more and getting up to a dozen scam calls per day.
Annoyed
April 03, 2019

In reply to by Kerry

We just received a call like this with the ID reading "WCF". As soon as the answering machine picked up they hung up. Thanks for the tip. They will be blocked.
Merlin Dorfman
April 26, 2018
Apparently our number was used in a "neighbor spoof." We received dozens of calls from people who saw our number in the "missed call" window and called us to see what was going on. Very annoying, and apparently faking a phone number is legal.
Ms1
April 28, 2018
I have read a lot of comments telling people to hang up on questionable calls. Why answer at all if the call is unidentified and/or unfamiliar? Chances are it's a scam.
Lmonte37
April 30, 2018
Simple solution: Don't answer any call if name or number is not in your phone contact list!!!
Ohbother
May 01, 2018
For what we are all paying the cell phone companies those little taxes and fees they tack on should be put to use here. I'm not a phone grabber and our cell phones are our life line to a family member with serious health issues. As for the Do Not Call registry being for only large companies- the one or two times we errantly answered the person on the other end was using my name and a large companies reward system that I participate with. Not okay.
Waruta
May 04, 2018
Someone just called me and was upset and said "you called me 5 times. Why?" I said that I had NOT called them, ever and only answered because the phone number looked similiar to mine. He said again, "well, you called me, I just pressed redial." I said again "it's something weird or a scam but I did not call you! I am a mom trying to cook dinner right now and I have never called you." Ugh. I don't have time for this.
Disabled Annie
May 06, 2018
My landline rings from 6AM until 11PM, anywhere from 6 to 20 times a day. I signed upfor for all the nomorobo etc. But I'm still getting excessive calls. I picked up the phone to call my doctor's office and lo and behold some sales person was calling in when I was trying to call out. This needs to stop, these calls are hurting people. What if it hadbeen an emergency? Please make them stop before someone dies because of these abuses in communication.
fedup
May 07, 2018
Thank you to all the liberals who decided to release cell phone numbers!
FTC Staff
May 08, 2018

In reply to by fedup

No one released cell phone numbers.

You might have seen a spam email, or heard a rumor about cell phone numbers being released. That is not true. The truth about cell phones and the Do Not Call Registry is:

  • The government is not releasing cell phone numbers to telemarketers.
  • There is no deadline for registering a cell phone number on the Do Not Call Registry.