AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Are you experiencing an increase in the number of local calls to your home and/or cell phone? You’re not alone.
According to the Better Business Bureau, the phenomenon is called “neighbor spoofing” and it’s the latest caller ID spoof strategy being used by phone scam artists in an attempt to get people to answer the phone.
Officials say in order for the scams to be successful, scammers need people to pick up the phone so they can initiate the conversation.
The scam uses a spoof caller ID to trick a person into thinking somebody local, possibly even someone they know, is calling. According to experts, this may interest someone just enough to answer their phone.
Con artists and robocallers use technology to modify what phone numbers appear on caller ID, impersonating phone numbers from neighbors, friends and local businesses to try to get you to answer the call. In many instances, it is a random number with the same area code and first three digits as your own phone number. In other cases, the number displays as coming from a local business or person in which you’ve previously communicated.
Answering one of these caller ID spoofed calls will indicate to the robocaller that you have an active phone line. Active phone lines are valuable to phone scammers and will often put you on what is referred to as a “sucker list,” potentially opening your phone line up to more scam calls.
Here are a few BBB tips to help identify and handle “neighbor spoofing” phone calls:
- Avoid answering calls from phone numbers you don’t recognize, even if they appear to be local. If it’s important, the caller will leave a message.
- If your own phone number is used in a caller ID spoof call, you may receive calls and messages from people asking why you called them in the first place. This can lead to a lot of confusion between the two parties, but knowing your own number can be used by scammers may help explain the situation.
- Be aware that phone numbers of local businesses, including doctor’s offices and/or insurance agents, may appear to be calling you. If you’re not certain whether the call is legitimate or a spoof, hang up and dial the known phone number for the contact to verify the communication, especially if personal and/or financial information is being requested.
- There are call blocking apps that may help decrease the amount of spam calls, including those using a spoof caller ID. Your phone carrier may also provide a similar service or offer advice.
- Make sure your phone number is on the National Do Not Call Registry. Though it is unlikely to prevent most phone scam calls, it will help to reduce calls received from legitimate telemarketers, which can be helpful in screening fraudulent calls.
For more information on nuisance calls, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and report phone scam calls to BBB Scam Tracker.