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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)
- Other Ways To Protect Your Personal Info
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 the use of 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.
Robocall scammers, however, have figured out how to use these online spoofing services to try to trick people into giving away valuable personal information for fraudulent use or to sell your information illegally.
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.
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 makes 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.”
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 any request for personal information.
Tips To Avoid Phone Scams And Spoofed Calls
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends the following tips 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 gain access to 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.
In addition to our recommended third-party apps below, your mobile service carrier may also offer an app for a minimal fee.
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.
- $2.99/month or $24.99/year
- 7-day free trial
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 their 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.
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
Check out the video below by a Tampa ABC News affiliate about how tricky scammers are getting these days.
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.
Source: How To Stop Spoofing Calls
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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 Identity 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.
What measures have you taken to eliminate robocalls?