Have you received a call from someone on your contacts list, but it wasn't them? It's odd and scary. Here's how it happens.

Just yesterday, my mom called me saying that she received two phone calls from my girlfriend's son. When she answered the phone, no one was on the other line. So, she called him back to see what he needed. He was very confused because he never called her. Then, she became confused because the calls she received were from his number, it even said his name. How could something like this happen?

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Has something like that happened to you in the past? Perhaps, when you answered the phone from the call coming from a person on your contacts list, there was someone else on the other line trying to con you out of money. This is becoming more and more common. It's called Caller ID Spoofing.

What is Caller ID Spoofing?

According to the FCC:

Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Scammers often use neighbor spoofing so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a local number, or spoof a number from a company or a government agency that you may already know and trust. If you answer, they use scam scripts to try to steal your money or valuable personal information, which can be used in fraudulent activity.

Is Caller ID Spoofing Legal?

There are some cases where it's illegal, and there are others where it's actually legal to do (which we will get into here in a bit). First, the FCC says:

Under the Truth in Caller ID Act, FCC rules prohibit anyone from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongly obtain anything of value. Anyone who is illegally spoofing can face penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation.

Now, the FCC does state that there are also legal and legitimate uses for Caller ID Spoofing. They give the example of when a doctor calls a patient from their personal phone number, the caller ID shows that the call is coming from their office. No harm, no foul there, right?

What Can You Do About Caller ID Spoofing?

Unfortunately, it's hard to decipher if a call from one of your contacts is a scam or not until you answer. First things first, avoid answering yes or no questions and never give out personal information. If the caller asks you to hit a button on your phone, just hang up. Another thing that you can do if you receive a call from one of your contacts and it seems a little off (especially if you aren't sure if it's legit or them) is to tell the caller that you will call them back in a second. Then, go into your phone to call your contact to confirm if it was them or not. If you think you've been the victim of a spoofing scam, you can file a complaint with the FCC.

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