Have you noticed an influx of calls from unknown numbers to your home or cell phone? How many of those numbers appear to be from a local line? Telemarketers, robocallers and even scammers have started to spoof their caller ID. But what is this “spoofing” that they’re using? In this case, spoofing is the process of changing the caller ID to a phone number that is different from their actual calling number.

Unfortunately, their dishonest methods are becoming more and more deceptive. There is now an approach, known as “neighborhood spoofing,” where these callers use local numbers on their caller ID in hopes that you will be more likely to answer their call. This spoofing technology is being used in an attempt to convince people just like you, that you are receiving a local call from a neighbor or even a business. In reality, these scam calls are usually trying to sell you something, steal your identity or even persuade you to send money.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) spoofing is illegal when it’s done to defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value. If you have been spoofed, you can file a complaint with the FCC on their website.

Avoiding spoofed calls is next to impossible, but the Better Business Bureau put together some suggestions to help reduce confusion about spoofing:

Avoid answering calls from phone numbers you don’t recognize, even if they are local. If the call is important, the person will leave a voicemail.

Be aware that phone numbers from local doctors, hospitals and businesses may show up on your caller ID. If you don’t want to let the call go to voicemail, be sure to hang up the moment you realize the call is actually a scammer.

Utilize your cellular carrier’s call blocking settings to hide calls from phone numbers you know are from scammers.

If you get calls from local people asking why you are calling them, realize that scammers might be spoofing your number. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do, but you can at least be aware of it happening.

Never give out personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account numbers, over the phone to an unsolicited or unknown caller.