Spam phone calls and caller ID spoofing are on the rise, and protecting yourself from being scammed can feel overwhelming. Make sure you arm yourself with knowledge, especially if you’re a new cell phone user or an older person.

Scammers prey on those with limited technological literacy, and it’s important to know what you’re up against in today’s increasingly digital world.

What is Caller ID spoofing?

Spam includes all forms of unwanted communications, including but not limited to unsolicited calls or messages, caller ID spoofing and robocalls. Typically, spam is directed to large numbers of users for the purposes of advertising, phishing, spreading malware and more. Learn more about how scammers falsify information to disguise their identity and how you can avoid becoming a victim.

Caller ID spoofing is a process in which the caller knowingly falsifies the information transmitted in the call, such as changing the caller ID to any number other than the actual calling number, in order to disguise the actual number they’re calling from. The number that displays on your caller ID may look as though it’s coming from a government agency, business or even someone in your contact list, in an attempt to trick you into answering the call.

Caller ID spoofing is increasing throughout the telecommunications industry and includes landlines, mobile devices and IP-based telephone service providers. This is not a carrier-specific issue, anyone can fall prey to caller ID spoofing.

Some callers have legitimate reasons for hiding their information, such as doctor’s offices or law enforcement agencies. However; in most cases the caller’s intent is not so innocent. Scammers call from a local number, or spoof a number from a company or government agency that you already trust so you feel safe enough to answer the call. Once they get you on the phone, they will then use scam scripts in an effort to steal money and valuable information from you, such as personally identifiable information, including bank and credit account information, driver’s license numbers, home address, etc.

Protect yourself from fraud

If you don’t recognize the number, don’t answer the call. If you accidentally answer the call, end the call immediately.

If you answer the call and you feel like it may be suspicious, do not answer any questions or give out any personal information and end the call immediately. Identity thieves often pose as representatives of banks, credit card companies, creditors or government agencies to get account numbers, social security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords and other identifying information. If you suspect the call may have been legitimate, call a customer service or fraud phone number listed on account statements, or the websites of the company or government agency.

If you have a voicemail account with your phone service, make sure to set a password for accessing your messages. Spammers can hack your voicemail and gain access if you do not set a password for protection.

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