Are you experiencing an increase in the number of local calls to your home and/or cell phone? You’re not alone. This phenomenon is called “neighbor spoofing” and it’s the latest caller ID spoof strategy being used by phone scam artists to get people to answer the phone.

For phone scams to be successful, scammers need people to pick up the phone so they can initiate the conversation. Neighbor spoofing uses a spoof caller ID to trick a person into thinking somebody local, possibly even someone they know, is calling.

These automated calls have seen a surge in recent years. According to the New York Times, 3.4 billion robocalls were made in April. That’s an increase of over 900 million from the year before.

Answering one of these caller ID spoofed calls will indicate to the robocaller that you have an active phone line. Active phone lines are valuable to phone scammers and will often put you on what is referred to as a “sucker list,” potentially opening your phone line up to more scam calls.

Better Business Bureau offers a few tips on how to handle “neighbor spoofing” phone calls:

  • Don’t answer. Avoid answering calls from phone numbers you don’t recognize, even if they appear to be local. If it’s important, the caller will leave a message.
  • Call blocking apps. There are call blocking apps that may help decrease the amount of spam calls. Your phone carrier may also provide a similar service or offer advice.
  • Report number to FTC. The Federal Trade Commission takes the phone numbers you report and releases them to the public each business day. This helps phone carriers and other partners that are working on call blocking solutions.

You can also make sure your phone number is on the National Do Not Call Registry. Though it is unlikely to prevent most phone scam calls, it will help to reduce calls received from legitimate telemarketers, which can be helpful in screening fraudulent calls.