Avoiding Fraud: What Is Call Spoofing?

Families experiencing financial hardships are often targeted by fraud artists seeking to take advantage of their situation. One popular scheme involves telephone fraud via call spoofing.

Cell phone showing incoming call from unknown caller

Call spoofing occurs when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID to disguise their identity while pretending to be someone else. This tactic allows scammers to misrepresent who they are and where they are calling from to obtain your personal information.

How to avoid call spoofing

It is always best to approach any unsolicited phone calls with a healthy dose of skepticism. Most legitimate operations — such as banks, credit cards and mortgage servicers — will not call and ask you to provide personal information. For instance, Freddie Mac will never contact you by phone to discuss your loan details or refinancing options.

Here are a few more tips to help you avoid call spoofing scams:

  1. Be cautious with caller ID.

    Just because an incoming call appears to be local, that does not mean that it is. Call spoofing allows scammers around the world to manipulate where their caller ID information is coming from.

  2. Let it go to voicemail.

    If you don’t recognize the phone number of an incoming call, don’t answer it. If the call is important, the caller will leave a message. If they do, use your best judgment to determine if the call is legitimate.

  3. Hang up.

    If you do answer an unsolicited call and something doesn’t seem right, trust your instincts and hang up. If you pick up a robocall, do not press any numbers and hang up immediately.

  4. Don’t provide sensitive information.

    Do not give out any personal, financial or other sensitive information over the phone. You should request any official inquiries in writing. If the caller is contacting you for legitimate reasons, they should understand and be willing to do so.

  5. Report fraud.

    If you have been contacted by someone claiming to represent Freddie Mac or otherwise suspect fraud, report it here.

If you receive a call with an offer that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You should remain vigilant anytime you receive an unwanted phone call.

Common telephone scams tend to offer free money, debt forgiveness or other perks that are designed to target people experiencing financial hardships. If you are struggling to make mortgage or rent payments, you should contact your lender or landlord directly to discuss your options.

Last reviewed: July 18, 2024

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