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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > October 2017 > When Caller ID Fails: Learn About “Spoofing”

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When Caller ID Fails: Learn About “Spoofing”

Do you receive unwanted telemarketing or scam phone calls and wonder why your caller ID says many of them are right in your area code? It’s called caller ID “spoofing;” a technology that is cheap and readily available to mask where the calls are originating.
Spoofing means scammers from other states or even other countries can spoof your caller ID to make you believe they are from, for example, a legitimate bank or government agency in your hometown. The Ohio Department of Health recently reported that scammers used caller ID spoofing to make calls appear as if they were coming from their office and a local health department. The scammers then requested personal information from the consumers.
Scammers may spoof the caller ID using an area code where they know the organization they are impersonating conducts business (such as a phony IRS agent using the 202 area code for Washington, DC). Calls may appear to be in your own area code and even use the same prefix as your own phone number.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “Under the Truth in Caller ID Act, FCC rules prohibit any person or entity from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value. If no harm is intended or caused, spoofing is not illegal.”
The FCC requires telemarketers to display the phone number along with the company name, if possible. The phone number should be one that consumers can call back during regular business hours and ask to not receive future calls.
In addition to spoofed phone calls, news reports and recent complaints to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office suggest scammers are sending phony bank text messages to convince consumers to disclose personal information. Consumers are instructed to reply or call an Ohio telephone number because of a problem with their account. The texts often appear to be from the “Huntington National Bank Help Desk” or the “Huntington Security Department.”  If the consumer returns the call, the scammer may try to get bank account or personal information like social security numbers.
Consumers can steer clear of scams by following these tips:
  • Do not give out personal information, including account numbers, passwords, or social security numbers to unexpected callers claiming to be your bank, a government agency, or other legitimate business or organization. If you receive this type of call, hang up.
  • If you think a caller may be legitimate, call the organization’s telephone number as shown on your account statement, the back of your credit and debit cards, the company or agency’s official website, or in the phone book.
  • If you receive an unwanted robocall, do not push any buttons – even to “talk to a representative” or “opt out” – because that may only confirm to the caller that your phone number is valid and working. Instead of getting fewer calls, you may actually receive more.
  • Place your landline and cell phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry (, 888-382-1222) to help reduce telemarketing calls. Be sure to report any violations to the National Do Not Call Registry or the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Consumers who suspect a scam or an unfair business practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.