Episode 789: Robocall Invasion : Planet Money Your phone rings--it looks like your neighbor's calling. But instead, it's the creepiest scam of the year.

Episode 789: Robocall Invasion

When a robot calls. Renee Klahr/NPR hide caption

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Renee Klahr/NPR

When a robot calls.

Renee Klahr/NPR

Warning: This episode contains some explicit language.

There are now a billion robocalls going to cellphones and landlines every month. Many of them look like they're from your neighbor.

It's not really your neighbor, of course. It's neighbor spoofing--which means using the internet to make it look like a scammer (who could be anywhere in the world) is calling from your area.When we asked our listeners if it's been happening to them... right away, we got about a thousand responses.

We know the basics: Scammers are impersonating nearby numbers. But why is it suddenly so popular? Who is on the other end of the line? And can they be stopped?

We talk to anti-spam specialists, the head of the FCC, and, scariest of all, we pick up the phone and talk back to the scammers.

Music: "Get It Get It" and "Wildoff." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

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