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Have you noticed a recent uptick in calls from unknown numbers or numbers that are suspiciously similar to your own? Phone scammers are on the prowl, using the latest technology to steal your personal information. Here’s how to protect yourself.
- What Is Spoofing?
- Tips To Avoid Phone Scams And Spoofed Calls
- Best Apps To Block Robocalls
- Are Spoofers Using Your Number? (Video)
- How To Stop Spoofing Calls (Infographic)
- Protect Your Identity And Your Wallet
What Is Call Spoofing?
Caller ID spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity.
One of the most popular ways that scammers spoof their caller ID is through third-party internet-based caller ID spoofing services.
Spoofing is legitimate in some cases — for example if a doctor calls you from their private number but wants the caller ID to display their office number. Businesses also use spoofing to display their toll-free numbers.
However, Robocall scammers have figured out how to use these online spoofing services to trick people into how to give away valuable personal information for fraudulent use or to sell your information illegally.
What Is Neighbor Spoofing?
Some robocallers use neighbor spoofing, which displays a phone number on your caller ID that’s very similar to your own. They do this to increase the chances that you’ll answer the call and make it trickier for you to block the number.
Aren’t Robocalls Illegal?
Robocalls are illegal unless you have given your consent. There are, however, a few exceptions — health care appointment reminders, bank fraud alerts, and federal loans are a few examples.
Illegal spoofing is a more serious offense. The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 (PDF) made caller ID spoofing illegal in the U.S. for “transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.”
How To Stop Spoofing Calls
It’s nearly impossible to stop all spoofing robocalls, but there are measures you can take to protect yourself.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to be extremely careful about responding to personal information requests.
9 Ways To Avoid Phone Scams And Spoofed Calls
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends the following 9 ways to protect yourself:
- Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If you mistakenly answer one, hang up immediately.
- If you answer the phone and the caller (or a recording) asks you to hit a button to stop getting calls, you should just hang up. Scammers use this trick to identify potential targets.
- Don’t respond to any questions, especially those that require a “Yes” or “No” answer.
- Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords, or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls.
- If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request. You’ll usually get a statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.
- Set a password for your voicemail. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and access your voicemail if you don’t set a password.
- Use Google to reverse lookup a phone number to see if it is associated with a known scam.
- Report phone scams and any suspected spoof calls to the FCC.
- Install call-blocking tools on your mobile.
What Are The Best Apps To Block Robocalls?
In addition to our recommended third-party apps below, your mobile service carrier may also offer an app for a minimal fee.
Best For iOS Smartphones: RoboKiller Review
Sure, there are free apps available, but RoboKiller gives you more capability to block those annoying robocalls and protect yourself against malicious spoofing calls.
RoboKiller automatically blocks over 200,000 telemarketers and robocalls, even if they are spoofing or changing their numbers. Another huge plus? RoboKiller won the Federal Trade Commission’s anti-robocall competition.
RoboKiller has an iOS as well as Android version of its app available.
- $4.99/month or $39.99/year
- 7-day free trial
Best For Android Smartphones: Hiya Review
Hiya, previously White Pages Caller ID and Call Blocker, started out as just a reverse number lookup service but has added call-blocking and caller ID services.
This service analyzes its database of hundreds of millions of phone numbers and fraudulent reporting from millions of Hiya users in real-time. Hiya gets overall positive reviews from both Android and iOS users.
- Premium: $2.99/month or $14.99/year
Best For VoIP Landlines: Nomorobo Review
Nomorobo started as a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) landline robocall blocker and now also offers iOS and Android apps. This service gets excellent user reviews for its landline protection, but the apps have numerous customer complaints.
- Landline: Free
- Mobile: $1.99/month or $19.99/year
- 14-day free trial
Are Spoofers Using Your Mobile Number?
Check out the video below by a Tampa ABC News affiliate about how tricky scammers are getting these days.
How To Stop Spoofing Calls (Infographic)
Here are some practical tips that can help you from falling prey to scam callers. Share these with anyone you know who you feel may be especially vulnerable.
Protect Your Identity And Your Wallet
Phone scams are one of many ways identity thieves try to infiltrate your personal information for fraud purposes. Online ID theft is rampant, so you need to protect yourself from hackers at every turn.
Be sure to read our reviews of the best ID Theft protection services to learn more about how to safeguard your good name and financial well-being. You may also want to check out our best RFID wallet reviews to see how you can protect your credit and debit cards while you’re out and about.Tagged With: Comparison