Caller ID Spoofing: You Can’t Always Trust the Name

by | Apr 4, 2024

Caller ID is a great feature of modern phones, as it lets you see the names and numbers of many callers. That makes it easier to know if you should answer when busy or let it go to voicemail until later in the day. However, like with any tech, scammers always find a way to use features against their users. That has caused caller ID spoofing to catch many people off guard.

According to the FTC, imposter scams cost Americans over $650 million in Q4 of 2023 alone. Phone calls were the top contact method during that period, with credit cards being the most used payment method. While new measures have been implemented to reduce the number of spoofing calls, it continues to be a problem.

What Is Caller ID Spoofing?

Caller ID spoofing is the act of altering the phone number and name that displays to look like someone they aren’t. Scammers often do this by pretending to be someone, such as a bank, tax agent, or even a tech support agent. By establishing trust by using a legitimate phone number that makes it appear they’re someone else, they can trick some users into giving up personal information.

Why Caller ID Spoofing Is Effective

Most people already avoid unknown numbers, with 68% refusing to answer. However, caller ID spoofing gets around that by presenting a familiar name or number. Around 78% of people are more willing to answer a call if they see a brand or name they recognize, making that false trust a weak point. That’s why spoofers use popular brand names; they know people are much more likely to answer those calls.

Signs That Someone Is a Caller ID Spoofer

Red flags can show up before you even answer the call. Make sure to pay attention to the name and number. Even if the caller ID looks legitimate, be careful with what you say before confirming who they are. Here are some of the signs that someone may be caller ID spoofing:

Wrong Area Code

If a caller claims to be from a local company but their area code doesn’t match, they may be caller ID spoofing. It’s worth noting, though, that if they’re using a cell phone and moved from a different region, their area code would be different. If it’s a small business, there’s a higher chance they may be using a private cell phone for work.

Unusual Caller ID

Not all caller ID spoofers copy real phone numbers, and some even make mistakes in setting it up. If the company name is spelled wrong or the number is clearly fake, like 123-123-1234, then it’s highly likely to be a spoof.

Urgent or Threatening Tone

Like many types of scams, caller ID spoofers often use an urgent or threatening approach to get what they want. They do this to put more pressure on the target and make them less likely to notice that it’s a fake call.

Demanding Money

Callers demanding money on the spot are often combined with urgency or threats, which is a red flag. Most companies will not try to pressure people to pay during a call. They’ll even direct people to online payment portals on their websites for ease of use and better security. Just be wary of them leading you to a phishing website to pay.

Asking For Details They Should Already Know

While companies may sometimes ask for basic details to confirm your identity, it’s suspicious if they start asking for information that they should already have. For example, your bank would never ask for your full credit card or bank account number over the phone.


Some spoofers use robocalls to sound like an official automated message, often demanding money or information. They provide a fake phone number to call or a website to visit, where they steal anything said or done.

Saying They’re From a Well-Known Company

Caller ID spoofing often involves pretending to be a well-known company or someone from the government. They’ll name-drop familiar brands like Google or Microsoft to create trust and authority. Generally, popular companies or government agencies won’t ever reach out unexpectedly. And if they do, they won’t be threatening, ask for money, or require extensive personal details.

How To Avoid Falling for Caller ID Spoofing

Avoiding caller ID spoofing involves a touch of caution. Be careful with unexpected calls, especially from unknown numbers. No legitimate company, bank, or government agency will threaten you into giving information or payments. Call filtering tools can help detect and block the spoofer. However, they rely on a mixture of spam databases, user reports, and other methods. No system is perfect.

Ultimately, the chance of someone spoofing a phone number is very low, meaning it won’t happen often. Asking simple verification questions doesn’t make someone a scammer, but at the same time, it’s important to be careful. Keep an eye out for the signs of potential caller ID spoofing, and you’ll reduce your chances of becoming a victim.

When in Doubt, Hang Up and Call Them Directly

If the caller is too pushy or asks for unusually personal details, politely say you’ll call the company back and hang up. If you’re given an alternate contact number during the call, don’t use it, as it may lead you to another scammer. Instead, use official contact methods from the company’s website and explain that you’re calling back. If they can’t confirm that someone contacted you, it was likely a scammer.

What To Do if You Get Tricked by a Spoofer

If you get tricked into giving out details or making a payment over the phone, the sooner you act, the better. If you give credit card information or your social security number, your identity may be at risk. First, contact your bank to inform them of what happened. If you have already sent the money, many banks have protections that let them reverse charges within 60 days.

Next, you can freeze your credit through the three credit agencies: TransUnionEquifax, and Experian. Doing that will prevent people from setting up mobile contracts, opening new credit cards, or taking out loans in your name. Depending on the stolen information, you may have to keep an extra eye on your credit and bank statements for the next few years. Beyond that, it’s a matter of being careful with future phone calls and spreading the word to people you know.

Spoofing Victims Are More Likely To Be Called Again

If you’ve ever fallen for caller ID spoofing even once, you’re more likely to be called again. Organized scammers often maintain lists of user contact information, the amount of money or information stolen, and other notes such as the target’s value. This data may even be shared between scam groups, so you may get calls years later after making a single mistake. If you’ve already been a victim of a call scam, continue to be extra careful.

What Providers Are Doing To Slow Caller ID Spoofing

With U.S. customers receiving around 4 billion robocalls monthly, the FCC required voice service providers to step up. They implemented a STIR/SHAKEN standard to help validate caller IDs between networks. Meanwhile, companies like T-Mobile have developed in-house solutions. Combined with the FCC requirements, features like Scam Shield have led to a 51% decrease in scam calls. While no single method is a perfect defense, a layered approach can help keep your phone lines more secure.

Always Be Careful Giving Sensitive Info Over the Phone

Whether someone is caller ID spoofing or not, always be careful with what you say over the phone. It’s not the most secure way to make payments or share sensitive information. However, having those conversations is still okay if you can confirm who they are or are expecting the call. As technology advances, so do the strategies of those looking to exploit it. The best way to protect yourself is to stay educated and aware of the latest threats.

If your business needs help managing your phone systems and reducing the chance of caller ID spoofing, reach out to us for a consultation via our contact form or call us at: +1 (800) 297-8293

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