Caller ID Spoofing Scams Are On The Rise, Says Better Business Bureau

June 24, 2014

Editor’s Note: We have a victim willing to speak to the media.

Consumers have reported receiving calls which appear to be from local area businesses; however, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) believes the calls are coming from overseas scammers in disguise. Callers have purchased lists of cell and home phone numbers and are using robocall capabilities to randomly dial. Using a technique called "spoofing", scam artists attempt to trick customers into thinking a legitimate Chicago area business is calling. BBB is advising consumers to use caution when providing information over the phone.  

Here’s how the scam works: Your phone rings and the number looks familiar. When you answer the call a computerized voice claims to have methods to lower your credit card interest rates, which of course, means they require a credit card number.

“Technology has provided many new options for scammers,” says Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “The callers attempt to gain your trust in hopes they can trick you into handing over important financial information by stealing names and phone numbers of companies you’re familiar with.”

Balaji Subramanian from Chicago says, “I got a call and my caller id said Chicago Police Department. The lady said that I had a federal complaint against me and that I had not filed my taxes properly.  My taxes were done by an accountant so I knew that wasn’t true. The lady told me to call another number and even though I was suspicious I called. There was no answer so I left voice mail. A man called back and said he was from the Federal Crime Enforcement Network. He started to ask me questions but I cut him off and refused to answer.”

Here are some tips to avoid caller ID scams:

  • Never give out any financial information. If you did not initiate the call, do not provide bank account, credit card or Social Security numbers over the phone unless you have thoroughly done your research and verified the caller.
  • Don’t rely on caller ID. Scammers can use technology to make it appear as though their calls are coming from legitimate businesses or organizations.
  • Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right to you, end the call.

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The BBB is a non-profit, non-governmental organization.  It is supported by businesses to protect consumers against scams and other unethical business practices.  The group accomplishes this by educating both consumers and businesses, and by highlighting trustworthy businesses. By developing reports and ratings on businesses and charitable organizations, the BBB encourages people to use these as resources and referrals to utilize the free services before making a purchase or donation. The BBB helps resolve buyer/seller complaints through its alternative dispute resolution process. In 2013, the BBB provided more than 22,600,000 instances of service.  Over 80 percent of consumer complaints to the BBB were resolved. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois is a member of the international BBB system that services the United States, Canada and Mexico.