By its literal definition, to spoof is to:

  1. Imitate something while exaggerating characteristic features for comic effect
  2. Hoax or trick someone

Spoofing is also a term used when referring to phone and online frauds and scams. Scammers can change the number that appears on Caller ID to trick you. The number could appear to be a government agency or a legitimate business. Or the number could look so much like yours that you think the call or text is from a friend or neighbor. It might even be your own number that appears to be calling you.

The spoofer's goal is to get you to answer the phone or text, opening the door for a scam that asks for your personal or account information.

We’ve heard from many of you about spoofing attempts – and the smart ways you handle the calls. Here are a couple examples:

               “Getting calls from spoofed AT&T customer service number … Saying my account has been suspended and needs verification. There’s no problems with my account. And AT&T didn’t call me but it shows up on my caller ID as the legit AT&T number.” – John P.

               “I have an acct with AT&T. I received a call on my cell phone showing my cell # and my name. I answered the call & they said it was an AT&T verification & said to push #1; which I did. They went on asking personal questions, such as my SSN #; at that point I hung up. Then I called AT&T to report this. I have installed the APP, AT&T Call Protect on my cell phone.” – Theresa A.

As you can see it can be pretty convincing and spoofing attempts may be on the rise.

So what can you do to better protect yourself?

  • Always remember that Caller ID spoofers are out there and you could be their next target.
  • Ignore incoming calls and texts from numbers you do not readily recognize.

For phone calls:

  • Don't give out personal information just because the caller asks for it, regardless of how simple the request may seem.
  • Hang up immediately if you suspect it's a spoofer. And don’t try to outsmart the bad guy by intentionally giving out wrong information. Just hang up.
  • If the call could be from a person or company you know, tell the caller you'll get back to them and hang up. Call the entity using a phone number found from a trusted source, such as their secure website or your bill.
  • Report the call to the company or agency that supposedly contacted you.

For text messages:

  • Never click on embedded links in unsolicited text messages from unknown numbers.
  • Do not direct dial any phone numbers listed in unsolicited text messages from unknown numbers.

If you don't already have it, download AT&T ActiveArmor℠ mobile security today. In addition to blocking numbers from known fraudsters, AT&T ActiveArmor℠ mobile security also provides an extra layer of protection that helps you easily secure your data, block spam, manage nuisance calls and more.

The Federal Trade Commission has more information about Caller ID spoofing scams on its website:

Caller ID spoofing is a reality, but you don't have to take the bait.

If you think you've been spoofed, report it here.