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You pick up the phone and hear a recorded message — a robocall — or a live person selling something. Maybe it’s not who your caller ID said it was. Or you get an unexpected text message saying you won a prize, have a package waiting, or must contact your bank.

Recorded sales calls are illegal unless you give a business written permission to robocall you. If your number is on the Do Not Call Registry, you’re not supposed to get any recorded or live sales calls. But scammers ignore the rules about when and how they can call you.

Scammers use technology to make any name or number show up on your caller ID: the IRS, a business you know, or even your own number. You can’t trust caller ID because phone numbers can be faked. Scammers send text messages to trick you into clicking links and giving personal information.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Hang up on unwanted calls and ignore unexpected texts. Don’t press any numbers or click on links. Blocking services might reduce unwanted calls and texts. Ask your phone carrier about call and message blocking. Read expert reviews about your options. Learn more at ftc.gov/calls.

  1. Pass this information on to a friend. You may know what to do about unwanted calls and texts, but you probably know someone who doesn’t.

Want to know more?

Sign up for Consumer Alerts at ftc.gov/ConsumerAlerts.

Download and order materials to pass on