Scammers are using AI to impersonate your loved ones. Here’s what to do

Dennis Peng profile image March 27, 2023 | 2 min read

Imagine you get a call from your grandchild. They sound scared and are talking fast, telling you about how they’ve been arrested and are using their one phone call to get in contact with you. You ask what happened, and they say there’s no time to explain, but you can help by sending them money.

This is enough to give any grandparent a panic attack, but is it real? Scammers have long used different methods to trick people into sending them money, but this week the FTC sent out an alert warning of a new one: Scammers using artificial intelligence to clone the voice of loved ones.

How is this possible?

A scammer just needs a brief audio clip of your loved one’s voice, which can be easily accessible online if anyone has ever posted audio or video of that person, and then putting that clip into a voice-cloning program powered by AI. They can then use the result of that program to mask their voice so that they sound like your grandchild, child, partner or close friend.

What you can do

If you receive a panicked call from a loved one, the first thing you need to do is try to remain calm. Sure, that’s hard to do when someone you care about appears to be suffering, but it pays dividends whether or not the situation is real.

Second, don’t immediately trust the voice. The FTC recommends hanging up immediately and then trying to get in touch with them via a phone number you know is theirs. If you can’t reach them, try to get through to another family member or close friend.

There are also certain “tells” you can look out for during the call. If they mention anything about wiring money, sending cryptocurrency or even just buying basic gift cards and giving them the card numbers and PINs, those are major red flags of a scam.

Once you’ve made sure your loved one is safe and identified the call as a scam, please report the scam to the FTC at

If you’re an Ooma home phone customer, there are a few additional things you can do. The first is to add the number to your blocklist so that you don’t have to worry about it calling you back ever again.

The more powerful option is to use Contact Only Calling, available with the Ooma Premier plan. With this, only numbers you know, and know are secure and real, can contact you. That means a scammer who is pretending to be someone else wouldn’t even get to say hello to you.

Getting scammed can be a stressful experience, one that can lead to financial ruin and mental anguish. But there are powerful tools available to help you fight back.