Caller ID Says "Phone Scam"

Telemarketing credit card fraudsters aren’t even trying anymore. Reader Chris took a picture of the caller ID for one of them actually showing up as “PHONE SCAM.”

Looking at complaints about the phone number online, which also say that the number comes up as “PHONE SCAM,” it sounds like they already have your credit card number and they try to get you to give them the CCV code. They pretend to from a company that can lower your credit card interest rate and say they just need the code on the back to verify your account.

Remember to never give out personal information to strangers on the phone.

Not sure why they would program the caller ID to say “Phone Scam.” Disgruntled employee playing a joke? It’s not the first instance we’ve seen of this, though. A few months ago another reader sent in a picture of a roboscammer that showed up on caller ID as “TELEMRKET FRAUD.”


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  1. humphrmi says:

    I can make my phone do that. After the first call from them, edit your received call list and assign the name “Phone Scam” to the number that called you. Next time they call, it comes up that way.

    • The Marionette says:

      That’s exactly what popped into mind when i saw the title. A quick change of a phone contact’s name, a snapshot, and there you have it, a typical consumerist post.

    • packy says:

      I’ve programmed my Android phone to do this, and given the address book entry Mr. Yuk! as the photo:

    • nbs2 says:

      I don’t think that’s the case this time – my sister-in-law had this happen to her a couple weeks back.

    • The Twilight Clone says:

      This appears to be a landline phone. Do landline phones have address books these days?

      • Shadowman615 says:

        Mine does. It’s a cordless panasonic with a single base and 4 phones/charging stations. You can program phone numbers into them, and when one of the pre-programmed numbers calls it comes up as what’s written in the phonebook entry instead of the caller-id info.

  2. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    CallerID name isn’t transmitted by the public switched network, just the number. It is looked up on the other end using the CNAM database. Some carriers will provide their own database (city names, poor data) to save the money as each lookup can cost a couple of cents. I could see one of these databases containing that. So, OP, are you with the local former monopoly carrier, cable, VoIP?

    • SBinVA says:

      Correct on the CNAM database, most people don’t realize this. (I used to be one of those until my bosses cell number started showing the name of a recently fired employee and had to have it changed.)

      This could be an industrious worker for whatever CNAM provider the OP’s phone company uses trying to help unsuspecting potential victims.

      Of course, local settings on your hardware override the name received from the phone company, so this image proves nothing really.

  3. Olivier Labbe says:

    It can be a misprogrammed TrixBox, when used by dumb tech, your phone will produce bizares Caller ID, like 000-000-0000

    and if a dumb tech assigned the name “phone scam” to a phone number in trixbox, and never settup the caller id, this is what caller will see.

    • Skellbasher says:


      You can only spoof the number. You can’t spoof the name from the PBX. That’s looked up in a CNAM DB that’s not accessible by the end user.

  4. PerkStreetJen says:

    Now make it say, “She’s calling to ask when you’re going to have kids” when my mother rings my phone and we’ll be all set.

  5. jrwn says:

    I work for a telco, and if we know a company is running a scam, we can override the Caller ID, like this.

    • Rachacha says:

      Wouldn’t it be better to cancel their service and repot them to the authorities rather than risk a libel complaint?

      • evnmorlo says:

        Then they’d stop paying for service

      • BBBB says:

        “Wouldn’t it be better to cancel their service “

        The call is probably originating from a different phone company – the telco could override the caller ID name, but does not control the callers account. They couldn’t globally block it without a court order [only as a harassing caller for an individual account.]

  6. Dustbunny says:

    Someone needs to invent a magic new technology that will automatically display useful info on your phone – like “boss calling to ask why you’re not at work” or “hottie calling to ask you on a date”.

    • Gramin says:

      Google Voice is almost there… when someone calls, they have to state their name and you can listen in as they’re leaving you a voice message. You won’t get the text displayed on the screen but at least you can listen before deciding to answer the phone.

      And to make it easier for the hotties to call me, my number is 312-864-**** where the **** is my first name. Love my Google Voice number.

    • MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

      Or cute girl I gave my number to but was unaware she’s a PSYCHO HOSE BEAST!

  7. PLATTWORX says:

    I have a vtech home phone. All you need to do is save the number that called you before as “PHONE SCAM” in the address book and either bring up the prior call again in call history.

    Do you really think the phone rang, this name popped up without any prior warning on the caller ID, the person who took the picture found their camera or camera phone and was able to take this picture all before it went to voice mail? Really?

    • microcars says:

      yes I do believe it.
      just scroll through the previous numbers that have called and it will display this info any time you want (as long as you did not delete it)

  8. Nyall says:

    The fraudsters aren’t trying? Allow me to use my powers of deduction and guess that its the phone company that is responsible.

  9. outoftheblew says:

    Do some cell phones pull up the caller ID for a number that you’ve never dealt with before (or programmed into your phone)? All the cell phones I’ve ever had only show the number that’s calling, unless I’ve programmed a name to it.

  10. sqeelar says:

    Soooo much cleaner than what my called ID sez. Too bad I can’t ask them why their ID sez that, ’cause they might call again just to enjoy the conversation.

  11. Willnet says:

    What is that thing? Is that a landline? Does it have twitter?

  12. Salty Johnson says:

    Now exactly why would you censor the number?

  13. keepher says:

    I swear, I’m suffering from deja vu. Seems like I read this exact same thing about this very subject last month. Is Consumerist recycling old topics?

  14. PhilFR says:

    Smells fishy. Who happens to have a camera out and ready to take a picture of their crappy cell phone?

    • Shadowman615 says:

      1. It’s a landline phone, which the OP could have taken with the cell.

      2. These new-fangled landline phones with caller ID save the last 30 or so names and numbers that called. One could scroll through them all and call back or snap a picture or whatever.

      3. I’m not saying that proves anything — OP could still have saved the number in his phonebook with that name. Just that it’s not necessarily fishy for the reasons you stated.

    • dru_zod says:

      I have received one call from a number that was labeled “PHONE SCAM” on the caller ID, so I will vouch for the authenticity of this. They called just last week, on a land line phone, and I thought it was very odd. I just let it ring and it hasn’t called back. My land line phone does not have an address book feature that allows me to change names on the ID, so the “phone scam” label is coming from somewhere other than the phone.

      I wish every phone scam came with a caller ID warning label :)

  15. veg-o-matic says:

    Oh no, that’s just from “Phones Cam,” purveyors of the latest in add-on modular telephone camera technology.

    You missed a heck of a deal, Reader Chris.

  16. Bela Oxmyx says:

    Reader Chris is not trolling us. I got the same call (same number, too, from the fragments visible above) , at 6:48p pacific time on 9/20. It was a robocall from the famous “Rachel from Card Services”. I hit the button to be passed through and thanked the person who answered for their forthright and honest attitude regarding their caller ID. Then I hung up and filed a complaint with :-)