Home Advice & How-ToSafety What Is Neighborhood Spoofing? Understanding the Scams and How to Protect Yourself
Home Advice & How-ToSafety What Is Neighborhood Spoofing? Understanding the Scams and How to Protect Yourself

What Is Neighborhood Spoofing? Understanding the Scams and How to Protect Yourself

by Spokeo

Have you ever received a phone call from a number that looks oddly familiar?  The phone number has the same area code and prefix as yours, but you don’t recognize the caller?  This is neighborhood spoofing.  It’s a tactic used by scammers to trick you into answering their calls, so they can then try to exploit you.  Here’s a look at how it happens, what scammers hope to gain from it — and how you can protect yourself from becoming a victim.

What Is Neighborhood Spoofing?

Neighborhood spoofing is a technique used by scammers, where they manipulate the Caller ID information to make it appear as though the call is coming from a phone number similar to the recipient’s (yours).  By making the call look local — as if it’s from your neighborhood — you’re more likely to answer.

How Do Scammers Manage to Spoof Caller ID?

There are several ways scammers can spoof phone numbers, but the most common method involves using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.  VoIP allows for the easy manipulation of Caller ID information, enabling scammers to make it appear as though they are calling from any number they choose.

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The most conniving might even spoof the numbers of local businesses, government agencies or other trusted organizations.

What Are Scammers Trying to Do Through Neighborhood Spoofing?

The primary goal of neighborhood spoofing is to deceive the recipient into answering the call. 

After the call is answered, the scammer may attempt to carry out various scams.  These might include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Phishing Scams.  The scammer poses as a representative of a legitimate organization, such as a bank or government agency, in an attempt to obtain sensitive information.  
  • Tech Support Scams.  The scammer may claim to be from a well-known technology company, offering to fix a nonexistent problem with the recipient’s computer or device in exchange for payment or access to the device.  
  • Robocall scams.  The scammer may use automated calls to deliver prerecorded messages, often promoting fraudulent products or services.
  • IRS scams.   The scammer poses as an IRS agent and claims the recipient owes back taxes, demanding immediate payment to avoid penalties or legal action.
  • Lottery or sweepstakes scams.  The scammer tells the recipient they’ve won a prize but need to pay a processing fee or taxes before receiving the winnings.
  • Utility scams.  The scammer claims to be from a utility company, threatening to shut off service unless an overdue bill is paid immediately.

In rare cases, spoofed phone numbers might actually have legitimate product or service offers.  Legitimate telemarketers might also use neighborhood spoofing to increase the chances of people answering.  

Regardless of whether a call sounds legitimate, it’s best to not provide any information or make any purchase.  Even the most discerning can have trouble telling whether a call is legitimate or a scam — and legitimate telemarketers have already used a deceptive practice by the type you answer.  No product or service is worth the risk of theft.

Protecting Yourself From Neighborhood Spoofing

Protecting yourself from neighborhood spoofing requires a multifaceted approach.  You should take preventative measures, and be aware of how to handle scam calls.

Taking steps to prevent spoofed calls reduces your risk of falling for a scam.  When you don’t answer, you can’t fall prey.  Preventing calls also stops many of the annoying rings that you don’t want.  Prevention measures you can take include:

  • Do Not Call Registry.  Register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry to reduce the number of unwanted calls you receive.  While this won’t stop spoofers and scammers, it can help limit the number of legitimate telemarketing calls you receive.
  • Use Call-Blocking Apps.  Consider downloading call-blocking apps or enabling built-in call-blocking features on your smartphone.  These tools can help identify and block known scam numbers.
  • Don’t Answer.  If you don’t recognize a number, you don’t have to answer even if it’s local.  The caller should leave a message if you miss an important call.

Know what to do when you inevitably do answer a scammer’s spoofed call:

  • No Personal Information.  Never give out sensitive information over the phone, unless you made the call and/or are absolutely certain of the caller’s identity.
  • Avoid Pressure.  Don’t be pressured into making a quick payment.  Any real organization will give you time to ask questions and verify claims.
  • Hang Up and Call.  If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of a call, hang up and independently look up the organization’s contact information.  Call them back using the verified number to confirm whether the call you received was genuine.

Reverse Lookup Phone Numbers

Have a phone number that keeps calling, and you don’t know whether it’s legitimate?  Reverse lookup the phone number on Spokeo to help you find out whether it’s a scammer or someone you should answer.


Better Business Bureau – BBB Scam Alert: “Neighbor spoofing” is a common type of phone scam

FCC – Caller ID Spoofing

AT&T – Neighbor and Reflective Spoofing Scams