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As I make my rounds speaking to consumer groups, one question that I’ve noticed that frequently gets asked is, “why is my number calling me?” Unfortunately, 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 twist, you might even see your own name and phone number on the caller ID screen. 

You answer the phone, and it's a robocall. 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, general curiosity and for ensuring the number isn't blocked. Who is going to block their own number?    

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 may just give the con artist information he can use.  Additionally, don’t press a button to be removed from their calling list. This is typically just a ploy to see if there is a live person answering the phone and usually results in more unwanted calls.

•Don't trust Caller ID. Scammers have technology that lets them display any number or organization name on your screen. If you are unfamiliar with the number calling, let it go to voicemail so you can decide if the call is important enough to return.  

 

•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.

•Remember who owns the phone. Stopping scammers from calling you is almost impossible but ultimately, remember that you own the phone so don’t allow anyone to use it as a tool to steal your hard-earned money or identity. It isn’t rude to hang up on a thief.

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 you can trust, visit bbb.organd to report a scam in our BBB Scam Tracker, visit www.bbb.org/scamtracker/central-georgia.  

Kelvin Collins is president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving the Fall Line Corridor, serving 77 counties in East Alabama, West Georgia, Southwest Georgia, Central Georgia, East Georgia and Western South Carolina. This tips column is provided through the local BBB and the International Association of Better Business Bureaus (IABBB). The Better Business Bureau sets standards for ethical business behavior, monitors compliance and helps consumers identify trustworthy businesses. Questions or complaints about a specific company or charity should be referred directly to the BBB at Phone: 1-800-763-4222, Website: www.bbb.org or Email: info@centralgeorgia.bbb.org.

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