How to protect yourself from neighborhood phone spoofing

Investigations

Spoofing: it’s the latest practice used by scammers and telemarketing companies to take your money.

“Since the internet was really invented, people have been finding new ways to use the internet to scam people and to use it to commit fraud,” said John Sancenito, president of Information Network Associates, Inc.

Scammers and telemarketing companies are spoofing phone numbers, hoping you pick up a call that looks familiar to you.

“I can spoof a number when I am calling you. I can change the caller ID so that it shows up on your phone as being from a number that it’s not,” said Sancenito.

People will try to get your money by calling from your bank number. Telemarketing companies are going more local, spoofing numbers that look like your own.

“It’s called a neighborhood call, so it’ll look at your demographic and come up with a local extension, an area code, and the first three numbers of a local call to your particular neighborhood,” said Sancenito.

Under the Truth in Caller ID Act, FCC rules prohibit anyone from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.

Anyone who is illegally spoofing can face penalties of up to $10,000. However, using a spoofing app or website is legal.

“Basically, once you sign up for the app, you put in the number that you want to call and what you want to show up on the caller ID. You can take a legitimate number for an organization and put that number in here,” said Sancenito.

Spoofing is also hard to crack down on, as some of it is done internationally.

Security experts recommend you do not pick up the phone unless you recognize the number, but if you do answer, do not give out any personal information.

“Actually go and look and research the number for the organization. Look on the back of your credit card and call the number for your credit card or look the number up and make sure you’re actually calling the right number, rather than relying on the number that they give you,” said Sancenito.

You can put your phone number on the national Do Not Call list. 

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives this year passed a bill to increase penalties for illegal spoofing, but it stalled in the Senate.

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