Robb Hicken: Beware calls with your number on caller ID

June 19, 2014 

Robb Hicken

I know it has occurred before, but it seems calls to the Better Business Bureau are increasing quite a bit from residents in the region reporting calls from people who have managed to "spoof" the number on their caller IDs as their own.

For instance, sometimes my phone rings, I look at caller ID, and it says "Robb Hicken" followed by my phone number.

We all know the scammers have spoofing equipment. It would seem to take something a little more sophisticated than we've seen in the past to make a call appear as the target's own name and number, but maybe not.

Treasure Valley residents are really concerned by this. The BBB explains to callers about spoofing, saying there is nothing to be concerned about as long as you don't give any personal information to these scammers and don't answer the phone if you see your own name and number pop up again.

A couple of callers have surmised that the scammers are doing this as a clever ruse, because the number they are calling from cannot be "blocked" if they are using the target's own number.

More worrisome is corporate name-jacking and the spoofing of customer service numbers and government agency numbers.

BBB received a report last week about a scammer who spoofed a local police number. The person who got the call got on the phone and heard a typical scam attempt. The caller said the individual owed money for a past-due loan and faced arrest at his place of business if he didn't pay. The caller ID read "Petersburg Police." BBB has also received reports of spoofed numbers from the IRS, Social Security and the FBI.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act restricts unsolicited prerecorded telemarketing calls made to landline home telephones, and all autodialed or prerecorded calls or text messages to wireless numbers, emergency numbers and patient rooms at health care facilities. But bad guys don't obey the law.

Placing your home or personal wireless numbers on the Do Not Call list prohibits telemarketers from calling even when they do not use automatic dialers or prerecorded messages, unless you have given them your prior express written permission to call, or they are exempt from the rule. To register a number, go to www.donotcall.gov.

Before responding to unsolicited phone calls, remember:

• 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 rely on caller ID. Scammers can use technology to make it appear that their calls are coming from legitimate businesses or organizations.

• Trust your instincts. If something doesn't seem right to you, end the call.

A CORRECTION

I write two types of columns for the Statesman: Scam Alerts and Consumer Alerts. Because of an editing error, the label on my column in the print edition June 12 was incorrectly labeled a Scam Alert.

I wrote that day about protecting your money and being a smart shopper when buying antiques. I shared the story of an antique show scheduled June 21 at Expo Idaho that is being organized by Roses & Rust Vintage Market in Redding, Calif. The Redding Chamber of Commerce told me a similar show by Roses & Rust there has grown each year to the point that it had to be moved to the county fairgrounds.

Robb Hicken: 947-2115

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