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Protect Yourself from Spoofing

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What is spoofing and how does it work?

“Spoofing” occurs when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Spoofing is often used as part of an attempt to trick someone into giving away valuable personal information so it can be used in fraudulent activity or sold illegally. U.S. law and FCC rules prohibit most types of spoofing.

Caller ID lets consumers avoid unwanted phone calls by displaying caller names and phone numbers, but the caller ID feature is sometimes manipulated by spoofers who masquerade as representatives of banks, creditors, insurance companies, or even the government.

What you can do if you think you’re being spoofed

You may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Be careful about responding to any request for personal identifying information.

  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious. 
  • If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request.
  • Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
  • If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it.  Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number.  A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.

Source: Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – June 22, 2017

Download the FCC Caller ID and Spoofing Guide

If you receive a call and you suspect caller ID information has been falsified, or you think the rules for protecting the privacy of your telephone number have been violated, you can file a complaint with the FCC.