The phone rings, the number looks familiar, so you pick up. Only to hear something like this:
“There’s some suspicious activity that we’ve found on your social security number. We’ve also suspended your social security number and we need to talk to you as soon as possible.”
You’ve just been spoofed. We’ve listed four apps to help make the calls stop, and steps to get your number listed on the National Do Not Call Registry with the Federal Communications Commission.
According to the Federal Communications Commission, caller ID spoofing is when a caller “deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity.” And the scammers have gotten so elaborate with their spoofing, they will even call from numbers that closely resemble your own, with not just the same area code, but also the first three digits of your phone number, which is called neighbor spoofing.
Alex Quilici, who works with YouMail, an anti-spoofing app, explains how spoofing calls work.
“When you make a phone call, you need to supply your caller ID. And when you make a mobile phone call from your cellphone, the carrier supplies it for you. But if you’re using a voice or office phone or call center, you can fill in whatever phone number you want. So the bad guys just pick a phone number and use it,” explains Quilici. “It’s really, really easy to make robocalls. It doesn’t take that much. There are tools out there and even websites. You can upload some audio, you can put in a phone number that people “press 1” to and basically go. If it’s that easy for the bad guys to make those calls, the bad guys are gonna do it.”
These calls are usually made by scammers or telemarketers, using local numbers because they figure you’re more inclined to pick up the line if the number is local.
What are they trying to get from you?
- Your personal information, like name, social security number
- Your financial information, like credit, debit, or other account numbers
- Your cellphone information, to use your number to scam or con other unsuspecting callers
Experts say, whatever you do, do not answer these calls, or hang up immediately once you realize the caller is spoofing you, and never ever, ever, ever push any buttons as prompted, or give any personal information to those calling you.
Four Anti-Spoofing Apps To Try
“Do Not Call”
Each year, the federal government receives millions of reports from consumers about unwanted telemarketers and robocalls. To help consumers filter out and reduce those unwanted calls, the National Do Not Call Registry was created. It’s free to sign up and can help slow down those calls in about 31 days of registering your number.
To register, all you need to do is visit the FTC website, and list your number or call 1-888-382-1222.
If the calls don’t stop after about a month, there is recourse for consumers and can cost the telemarketers up to $42,530 per call. Keep a log of the numbers that show up on your caller ID, as well as any that you are told to call back. Even if you think the numbers may be spoofed, and report them to the Do Not Call Registry.