Imagine this: You have an incoming call and the phone number that pops up on the caller ID is yours. How is this possible? Or, say you receive a call from a stranger stating they are returning your call. To your shock, you have no record of calling them. Perhaps you were having dinner or doing housework. Is this paranormal activity? Are you losing your mind? No. It is a scam called “spoofing”.
What is Spoofing?
People with nefarious intensions are using technology to hide their identity on caller ID by replacing the phone number with someone else’s. This is all an attempt to lure you, the unsuspecting victim, into picking up your phone and possibly giving personal and/or financial information.
This scam came to our attention when it happened to a team member of this website. A man with a local phone number called our fellow team member to ask why they kept getting calls from her personal phone. This surprised her. She stated she was blow-drying her hair at the time and not on her phone. Thankfully, she had the good sense to tell the man she believed it was a scam and ended the call. Based on the call, she believed they were both victims of spoofing. Someone fraudulently used her phone number to victimize a local person. She promptly alerted her service provider and blocked the phone number of the man to err on the side of caution.
The Truth about Spoofing
Being victimized by phone spoofing is scary. More than likely, you will not know if you are being indirectly spoofed unless someone notifies you. The intended victim may call you just to inquire, completely unaware of what is really going on. Now you, the indirect victim, are aware of someone trying to deceive others at your expense.
Another scary aspect is the fact it will be difficult for you and/or law enforcement to track down the real perpetrators. How will you track them down? Your phone number? An unsuspecting person’s phone number? It can get complicated.
What to Do?
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), if a scammer is spoofing your phone number in attempt to entice you to pick up your phone, don’t. Picking up the phone may worsen the situation. If they are spoofing a local business or the government, be suspicious. Don’t give out personal and/or private information. Hang up the phone and don’t be pressured over threats. You can always contact these organizations to verify if they reached out to you. In addition, file a FTC report to help with an investigation.