Ringing. It’s your phone. You check the caller ID.
It’s someone or some agency you recognize.
You answer, but it’s someone else on the other end of the line.
What’s going on?
You have experienced malicious scammers practicing ‘caller ID spoofing.’ This means hackers are manipulating their caller ID by making changes to certain sections of the calling code. They use this technology to trick people like you into thinking you’re receiving a call from someone you trust, such as the local police station or your bank. The goal is to steal your personal information, whether your passwords, bank details, or your birth date.
What to Do if You Answer a Caller ID Scam
You can’t ignore every call you get. If you do answer a suspicious phone call, and you suspect you’re being spoofed, here’s how to handle it:
- Most importantly, never give out or confirm personal information. Your bank, cable provider, the police station, or any other government agency or private company won’t ask you for private details over the phone. Do not disclose financial information, such as your bank details, or personal information, such as your address or passwords. Hackers use this information to make money, whether that’s by stealing directly or by selling your information to third-party companies.
- Never wire money, no matter how legitimate the person sounds on the phone.
- If the caller claims to represent a company or government agency, hang up and call the number on your latest statement, bill, or on their website. Let them know someone called, and they will verify the legitimacy of the call.
- If you are under pressure to share information, immediately hang up.
How to Avoid Caller ID Scams
Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid caller ID scams completely. You can minimize your risk by exercising caution.
First, always keep in mind that caller ID numbers can be manipulated.
Secondly, most caller ID scammers target individuals they know something about. Names, birthdays, and other personal details are often snatched from social media profiles, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Make sure all available privacy settings are turned on so only people you know in real life can access your information.
Lastly, if you use a voicemail account with your landline or mobile phone, make sure it is password protected. Hackers can access your voicemail by spoofing your phone if there is no password in their way.
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This information is provided for general consumer educational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice.