One way to avoid phone scams has always been not answering calls from numbers you don't recognize on your Caller ID. But crooks have a sneaky way around this. With Caller ID spoofing, they can make it look as though they're calling from a local number. They hide behind the "mask" of a legitimate phone number in your area to increase the likelihood that you'll answer the call.
Scam Alert – Watch Out For Local Caller ID Spoofing
How does it work? Caller ID spoofing providers (such as SpoofCard) allow individuals and organizations to decide the phone number they want to appear when they place calls. They pay for a certain number of call minutes, then use an online interface to enter their phone number, the number to be called, and the number they want to appear in the recipient's Caller ID. The Caller ID spoofing service then makes the call on the spoofer's behalf. Some of the numbers used are even stolen from people legitimately using them.
The goal of this scam is to try and get you to reveal personal information such as account numbers, passwords, and your Social Security number. To avoid becoming a victim of Caller ID spoofing, take the following precautions:
To learn more about Caller ID spoofing, visit the FCC Consumer Guide to Spoofing and Caller ID.
- Not answering calls coming from numbers you don't recognize is still a good idea, even if they're in your area code.
- Never give out personal information over the phone, such as account numbers, unless you initiate the call.
- If you receive a call requesting information, ask for the name of the organization that is calling. Then call that organization using the phone number on your bill or statement — NOT the number on your Caller ID. If the call is legitimate, you will be transferred to the appropriate department. If it's not legitimate, you can inform the organization of the spoofing incident.
- Never agree to send money if requested by a caller.
- If you suspect you've been a victim of spoofing, contact the Federal Communications Commission at 1-888-CALL-FCC or file a complaint.
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