Frauds & Scams

The Federal Communications Commission Helps Consumers Avoid Scam Calls

June 20, 2019 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: June 20, 2019

You know those robocalls from scammers that you keep getting on your phones? We get them at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), too.

Scammers use a technique known as spoofing to mask their caller ID on your phone and disguise their identities to steal valuable personal information, including your bank account passwords and Social Security number. In one recent case, the toll-free number of the FCC’s Consumer Center was used to disguise the actual incoming call number.

We’ve alerted the public to the problem and have taken measures to prevent this from happening again. We’re aware that the same thing happens with Social Security’s phone number. Some callers may pressure you for personal information or immediate payment; others offer deals that seem too good to be true. The number of calls is daunting, but we are taking action to turn the tide against spoofed robocalls.

The first line of defense is consumer awareness. The FCC provides guidance about spoofing scams and robocalls, including consumer resources for call-blocking apps and other services. We also post timely articles on the FCC Consumer Help Center website to alert you to the latest scams and amplify consumer warnings from Social Security and other government agencies. Consumers can keep track of these alerts by following @FCC on Twitter.

We recommend the following tips to avoid becoming a victim of a call scam:

  • Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize.
  • If the caller is not who you were expecting, hang up immediately.
  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, or other identifying information if a call seems suspicious.

In its continuing efforts to help stifle malicious phone scams, the FCC empowered phone companies to aggressively block by default unwanted and illegal robocalls before they reach consumers.

It’s all about safeguarding the American public. We’ll continue to partner with Social Security, the Federal Trade Commission, and other federal agencies to get the job done.

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About the Author

Patrick Webre, Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Federal Communications Commission

Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Federal Communications Commission


  1. Tina y.

    I got a message on my voice mail saying they were from social security Andi was beiing charged for tax fraud from ssa and if iidtvall back tywerepresd g charges against e

    • Jessica D.

      I did too and they said I was being sued by SSA. Terrifying and frustrating. It scares me that there are older people out there that would think it was real and give them the information they requested.

  2. Kelly R.

    I would like to know the end of this sentence that is not included in the entry:

    In its continuing efforts to help stifle malicious phone scams, the FCC empowered phone companies to aggressively ….

    to aggressively what?

    • alvin.e

      Yes, I’ve wondering about that too.

    • cj

      “In its continuing efforts to help stifle malicious phone scams, the FCC empowered phone companies to aggressively block by default unwanted and illegal robocalls before they reach consumers.”

    • M

      After receiving a robocall informing me that my benefits will be cancelled, I immediately called SSA and was told to report this call by calling a number that did not have an outlet to make a report. Dah…

  3. Mary W.

    I have been getting phone calls from an international number. No one answers when I pick up, or a recorded voice just says, “good-bye”. When I try to call these numbers back, I find that they are no longer in service. What could be happening here? This happens on local calls as well, not just international.

  4. Ron D.

    Spoofing should NOT be made possible unless the caller registers their number(s) and their business need for spoofing. Technology makes it possible (for carriers) to know WHERE a call is originating AND where it’s going-to.

    If a call comes in from someone, regardless who, I should be able to see who it is, without wasting my time of a spoofed call that can easily be stopped/prevented at the carrier level.

    The FACT IS: Spoofing is NOT a needed tool for virtually ANY business. So, this opens the door(s) for criminals since there are no efforts by phone carriers or the government to stop it.

    Simply make it a LEGAL REQUIREMENT that phone carriers NOT allow spoofed calls to come through from ANYONE, unless they have a LAWFUL reason to spoof, upon which they MUST register their originating number(s) AND lawful reasons for needing to spoof…

    • Teresa

      I really liked your comments because my cell phone carrier said they can thwart most of these calls for a small fee, but I feel consumers should not have to pay anything to stop them. I feel the “Do not Call ” registry worked for a time, but now clever ways have arisen to bother and reach consumers:(


    Scammers and robocalls will not end until some “teeth” (i.e. significant penalties, in $$ and prison time) are implemented by the government.

    • Janice

      I sent a list of the phone numbers that had called me, and sent it to the Texas Attorney General’s office. They checked it out and said that they were all ‘off shore’ numbers, meaning that none of them were in the USA. Nothing they could do about it was what they said. No help!!

  6. Catherine R.

    I also get e mails telling me my account has been compromised. Maybe because I shop on line ? Anyway I just ignore the e mails

    • Deb

      I get emails like this from places I’ve never even heard of!

  7. Colleen M.

    Now I’m not just getting robocalls, but robotexts as well. I am managing the phone pretty well, and I always reply ‘stop,’ but some keep coming anyway. Oh well.

    • Denny

      Don’t reply, it merely confirms your identity. Most mobile and commercial phones allow for number blocking.

      • Michael R.

        What is the real Social security administration number??

  8. Lynn

    The “Do Not Call” registration doesn’t do anything and certainly doesn’t impact robo callers.

    • JoeT

      Not only does the do not call registration do anything but the government needs to charge these companies so much for each call and if that happened they would be out of business on the first billin cycle.

  9. Darrell H.

    I am an attorney. One of my clients received a very threatening call from someone claiming to be from SSA. I called back and informed them I worked with SSA and this was not its number and not to call my clients again. Was this the right approach and how should this type of situation be handled without ratling the elderly recipients of the call even more?

  10. Richard M.

    These type calls should be automatically blocked and action taken against those that do this!

    • Anthony A.

      Here is a social security scam phone number that called me a little while ago in ARKANSAS.
      (1-866-158-7509 ) suspicious activity arrest warrant speak to agent . I sure hope these people get what they deserve for scamming the elderly and disabled . a sad excuse for a human being .

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