In the latest twist in the abuse of communications technology, consumers are receiving illegal marketing calls coming from what appears to be their own telephone number.
Across the country, Better Business Bureau is being inundated with calls from harried consumers who are confused and annoyed by the calls, which are often dialed by computerized calling centers.
Here is how the scam works: Your phone rings, the number looks familiar. You answer, and a computerized voice claims to have methods to lower your credit card interest rates, which of course, means they require a credit card number. In some cases, consumers are offered the opportunity to supposedly opt-out of future calls by pressing "1." That is almost a guarantee that they will receive more such calls.
The practice of faking the number of an incoming telephone call is known as "spoofing," and its use is growing among criminals who also use the technique to pretend they are calling from a well-known company or government agency.
By hijacking the names and phone numbers of companies with which you are familiar, the callers attempt to gain your trust in hopes they can trick you into handing over important financial information.
Before responding to unsolicited phone calls, BBB advises:
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.
If you receive one of these scam calls, hang up. Best advice? If you receive a call from your own telephone number or anyone else whose number you don't recognize, allow the call to go to voice mail.
For more information on being a savvy consumer, visit bbb.org.