What is caller ID spoofing?

If you glance at your caller ID and pick up the phone, thinking you're talking to a friend or neighbor only to find a telemarketer on the line, you've probably been the victim of "spoofing."

"Spoofing" is a way companies conceal their identity by changing how their name and number appear on your caller ID. Sometimes businesses (e.g., domestic violence shelters) do this for legitimate security reasons. More often than not, businesses have less honorable motives. For instance, it's becoming more common for companies to spoof local numbers, making it appear that they're someone calling you from down the street, or at least in the same city. Their aim is simply to get you to pick up the phone and listen to their scam.

Note: Sometimes customers aren't experiencing spoofing. Instead their caller ID display isn't showing what it should, and it's a matter of fixing the technical problem.

How to protect yourself

Clearly, spoofing is a serious issue and something we would like to stop. Unfortunately, companies that spoof typically use specialized internet software, and their calls either originate outside our network or aren't carried on our network at all. As a result, spoofed calls are usually untraceable and there's not a lot we can do to stop them.

However, there are things you can do to protect yourself and control who's able to call your home:

  1. Use a calling feature to block incoming calls. We offer a variety of privacy-focused calling features (e.g. security screen, caller ID with privacy+, call rejection, no solicitation, do not disturb) that you might find useful. When you purchased your phone service, you selected several calling features as part of your service package. If you've found a calling feature that you'd like to use that's not included in your package, you may be able to swap it for one you already have or purchase it a la carte. 
  2. Try to trace the harassing calls. It's usually difficult to trace spoofed calls. However, if you successfully do it three times, we have more options for getting involved, including working with law enforcement. The Call Trace feature is available in most areas. It's pre-installed on your phone line, and you're only charged if you successfully complete the trace. (You'll hear a recorded message if the trace completed.)
  3. Get an unpublished (private) listing. If you have a private listing, your name, address and phone number aren't included in the printed telephone directory and aren't available through Directory Assistance. There is a one-time setup fee as well as a monthly charge for this service.  
  4. Change your telephone number. While we understand this is probably a last resort, this can be a useful solution for some. In most areas, we'll change your telephone number for free one time if you're receiving harassing calls.

If you want to change your telephone number, add/change calling features on your account, or simply have questions, chat with us

If you continue to receive inappropriate spoofing calls, contact the CenturyLink Annoyance Call Bureau at 800-582-0655. Be prepared to share any relevant information with them such as the dates/times you've received spoofed calls. We're here to help!

Need more help? Contact Us

Was this article helpful?
Troubleshoot problems with your phone or internet service
Please enter your Account or Billing Phone Number and Billing Zip Code to test your services.