Roanoke, VA – Your phone starts ringing so naturally you look down to check the caller ID. The name and number listed makes you do a double take. Apparently the caller is… you?
Residents are reporting suspicious phone calls to BBB that, if their caller ID is to be believed, appear to be coming from their own phone number. When they answer they are greeted by either a recording or live person asking for personal information. Other residents have reported a computerized voice claiming to have methods to lower credit card interest rates, which of course, means they require a credit card number.
The calls are the latest rash of a scam using a technique known as phone spoofing. Using inexpensive programs and technology, telemarketers, scammers, and debt collectors can make any phone number they desire show up on the caller ID of the person they are calling.
“These callers want to cause a moment of confusion or curiosity that causes you to pick up the phone,” says Julie Wheeler, President and CEO of BBB Serving Western VA. “Don’t pick up these calls. Any reputable organization or company would not call you using your own phone number or name.”
These types of callers may be looking to obtain personal information or testing to see if they have reached a good, working number. The scammer can then either sell this information to others or use your name and number to spoof others.
The spoof might also involve other phone numbers in an attempt to appear legitimate. Residents across the country have reported receiving calls pretending to be their banking institution, local law enforcement office, and even close family members. Scammers will also send text messages purporting to be from well known organizations and companies that will include links to fraudulent and phony websites.
Before responding to unsolicited phone calls, BBB advises the following:
Start with trust. Go to http://www.bbb.org and check out the business first.
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. As mentioned above, scammers can use technology to make it appear as though their calls are coming from legitimate businesses or organizations or even your own home.
Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right to you, end the call.