Don’t Be A Victim: Protecting Yourself from Caller ID Scams
At least once a year, we report on the ever-increasing number of scams that circulate worldwide and have crept their way into our community. Scam artists are extremely crafty, and they will use a variety of methods to swindle you out of your hard-earned money. One of the most common and frustrating tactics is known as “spoofing.”
Spoofing is a method by which a caller ensures their number appears differently on caller ID. It is important to note that the technology for spoofing is legal and does have valid uses. However, scammers are not exactly on the up-and-up, and they are using the technology for fraudulent purposes. Not only are these con artists disguising their identity when they call, but they also are trying to make it appear that the call is coming from someone you know. NPA-NXX spoofing, or Neighbor Spoofing, is when an incoming call appears to match the first six digits of your own phone number (e.g., 912-598-xxxx). Telemarketers, scammers, and robocallers use this method to trick unsuspecting people into answering their phone. Did I mention that scam artists are crafty?
There is a plethora of scenarios, but according to a U.S. News & World Report article from May 2019, these are the 10 most common phone scams:
- Threatening calls from the IRS
- Technical support calls
- Fake charity appeals
- Lottery scams
- Family members in danger
- Bank fraud calls
- Insurance, health care, and debt scams
- Website password requests
- Fake customer requests
- Other urgent requests
Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to stop the calls. You could put the number on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Do Not Call Registry, but the likelihood of a scammer respecting that list is slim. You could try blocking the number, but scammers switch phone numbers often.
So what can you do to avoid falling prey to these wily tricksters? Try these helpful tips from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC):
- Do not answer calls from numbers you do not recognize. Let unsolicited calls go to your voicemail.
- If you answer and you are asked to hit a button to stop getting such calls, hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
- Do not give out any personal information, even if they already seem to know a lot about you.
- If you get a call from someone claiming to be a representative from a government agency or company, hang up and call the number on a recent statement, in the phonebook, or on their official website to verify the authenticity of the call.
- Be extremely cautious if you are being pressured for immediate payment. According to the FCC, “You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source.”
- Ask your phone company about call blocking tools for landlines or apps for mobile devices.
- Report spoofing scams to law enforcement, the FCC, and the FTC.
If you receive a “spoofed” call, you should report it to the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) and Federal Trade Commission. These agencies have the authority to enforce federal laws that regulate caller ID spoofing, auto-dialed calls, and interstate fraud perpetrated over the phone. Following is the contact information for these agencies:
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20580
TY: (866) 653-4261
In addition to the FCC and FTC, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) also have websites where complaints can be filed, which will assist in tracking various scams, phone numbers, emails, etc. Visit www.ic3.gov to file a complaint with the FBI, and visit www.bbb.org/scamtracker to report a scam with the BBB.
If you lost money to a criminal scam, you should report the matter to your local and federal law enforcement officials. These agencies have the authority to investigate criminal acts.
For more information, or to file a complaint, contact the Office of Georgia’s Attorney General.
Office of Attorney General
40 Capitol Square, SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
The Landings Association’s Security Department would appreciate notification as well. Please provide us with your name, address, telephone number, a brief description of what was said, the spoofed number used, and if you notified the FCC or FTC. Please email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and type “Spoofed” in the subject line.