If you get a call from your own phone, it’s not a trick or glitch. It’s a scammer making an illegal robocall using spoofing technology to fake you into answering.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), technology makes it easy for scammers to fake or “spoof” caller ID information. Officials say if you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it’s a robocall.
The FTC has seen a significant increase in the number of illegal robocalls because Internet-powered phone systems have made it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal calls from anywhere in the world and to hide from law enforcement by displaying fake caller ID information.
To date, the FTC has brought more than a hundred lawsuits against over 600 companies and individuals responsible for billions of illegal robocalls and other Do Not Call violations.
What should you do if you get an illegal robocall?
•Hang up. Don’t press any numbers. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls instead.
•Report the call to the FTC at donotcall.gov. Report the number on your caller ID and any number you’re told to call back, which helps them track down the scammers behind the call. Even if you think the number on your caller ID is fake, report it. The FTC analyzes complaint data and trends to identify illegal callers based on calling patterns.
The FTC takes the phone numbers you report and releases 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.
The FTC also is leading several initiatives to develop technology-based solutions. Those initiatives include a series of robocall contests that challenge tech gurus to design tools that block robocalls and help investigators track down and stop robocallers. They’re also encouraging industry efforts to combat caller ID spoofing.
The National Do Not Call Registry is designed to stop sales calls from real companies that follow the law. The Registry is a list that tells telemarketers what numbers not to call. The FTC does not and cannot block calls. Scammers don’t care if you’re on the Registry.
Even though the Registry can’t stop all of the unwanted calls you’re getting, being on the Registry could make it easier for you to spot scam calls. If a caller is ignoring the Registry or making an illegal robocall, hang up. There’s a good chance it’s a scam. Learn more about unwanted calls at ftc.gov/calls.