Caller ID spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display in order to disguise their identity. The number that displays on your Caller ID may look as though it’s coming from a government agency, business, or even someone in your contacts list in an attempt to trick you into answering the call. OIT cannot control the caller ID for calls that originate from off-campus, and you may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Be extremely careful about responding to any request for personal identifying information.

Note: If the caller’s intent is to defraud, cause harm or scam you into providing info you may not otherwise provide over the phone, the spoofing is illegal. If no harm is intended or caused, the spoofing is not illegal. Some people may have legitimate reasons to hide their info, such as a law enforcement agency or a doctor’s office.

Examples of spoofing

  • Caller ID displays a friend or spouse’s phone number, but your friend / spouse is not calling you
  • In neighbor spoofing, robo callers display a number similar to your own phone number, to increase the chance that you’ll answer the call.
  • Receiving calls from your bank’s phone number asking for personal info (account numbers, account PINs, etc.)
  • Caller ID displays ‘911 Emergency’ rather than the actual phone number of the calling party.

How to prevent spoofing scams

  • Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
  • If you answer the phone and the caller – or a recording – asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
  • Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes” or “No.”
  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
  • If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request.  You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.
  • Exercise extreme caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
  • If you have a voicemail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voicemail if you do not set a password.

If you believe you have fallen for a spoofed call and mistakenly shared information, contact the security team: https://security.uci.edu/incident.html

For additional resources on preventing spoofing scams: