Word to the Wise: Why is my number calling me? A crazy new scam

June 30, 2014 

Scammers are using caller ID spoofing technology to impersonate the phone numbers of local businesses, neighbors and even you. Watch out for this wacky twist on the classic phishing phone scam.

Here is how this scam works. Your phone rings, and you look at the caller ID. You recognize the number. It may be from a local business or a neighbor down the street. But in a strange new twist, you might even see your own name and phone number on the caller ID screen.

You answer the phone, and it’s a robo call. Victims have reported several different phishing scams. In one common version, a recording prompts you to verify your credit card number under the guise of lowering your interest rates.

With many people rejecting calls from unfamiliar numbers, scammers are increasingly posing as familiar businesses, government organizations or people. Scammers purchase lists of phone numbers and use spoofing technology to trick potential victims into picking up the phone. Posing as your own phone number is great for shock value and for ensuring the number isn’t blocked.

What to do if a scammer calls:

• Hang up, don’t press any buttons, and, if you received a voice mail message, don’t call the scammer back. We all like to have the last word, but returning the phone call might just give the con artist information he can use.

• Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers have technology that lets them display any number or organization name on your screen.

• 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 assume that your identity has been stolen. Scammers have the ability to spoof numbers very easily so unless you see unusual activity on your financial accounts, don’t panic.

Caller ID offers a multitude of conveniences, but like anything that is designed for good, others seem to find a way to use it for evil.

For more consumer tips, visit www.bbb.org.

Kelvin Collins is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia and the CSRA Inc.

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