Online Security

Robocall Scams

What is a robocall?

If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it's a robocall. If the message is a sales call pitching a product or service, and you have not given the company permission to call you, it's an illegal robocall. Many illegal robocalls are scams.

I recognize the number in the caller ID, but it was someone else calling. How is that possible?

Scammers use fake caller ID information to make it look like they're calling from a different place or phone number. That's called caller ID spoofing. They do it to avoid call blocking. They're also trying to trick you into answering. How? By making the call look like it's coming from a number you recognize. Maybe your credit card company or your bank. Scammers have made it look like the IRS is calling or even the local police department. Sometimes they'll make it look like you're getting a call from your phone number. They are hoping you will be curious enough to answer.

What is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) doing about it?

The FTC knows scammers spoof caller ID to hide from the law. They have sued hundreds of companies for making billions of illegal robocalls. They are working with the public to develop technology to block robocalls and help law enforcement authorities to track down the people making illegal robocalls. And the FTC is encouraging the industry to develop ways to prevent caller ID spoofing.

What should I do if I answer the phone and it's a recorded message or robocall?

If you get an illegal robocall, don't respond in any way. Don't press buttons to speak to someone or to be taken off the call list. You'll end up getting more unwanted calls. Consider blocking the number. If you're getting calls from the same number, call your service provider to see if they can block that number. If you're getting calls from different numbers, ask your service provider if they have a call blocking service. You could also buy a call-blocking device.

Hang up on illegal robocalls, then report them to the Federal Trade Commission. Go to or call 1-888-382-1222.


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