Criminals have increasingly used neighbor spoofing when launching vishing attacks. This apparently became popular in 2018 and has been steadily increasing.
Neighbor spoofing is when scammers spoof a phone number or company, that appears to be local, such as within the same area code, or the same city. In reality, the phone call can be originating from anywhere in the world.
They can also spoof the name. While writing this, I got a call with the name “US Government”. I didn’t answer. If it’s a real call and it’s important, the caller will leave a message. Scammers don’t always leave messages, and when they do, it’s usually apparent that it’s a scam.
Last week “Dominion Power” called (not really them), said my account was in arrears (it isn’t), and said unless I called back within 30 minutes and submitted a payment, they would turn my power off. Dominion Power doesn’t doesn’t make calls like this and any notice of turning off power would come through the mail.
Neighbor Spoofing Goals
Their first goal is to get you to answer. If you do, they will add your number to what they call, less than affectionately, a “sucker list.” They share this list with other criminals and the result is more calls.
Second, they launch into an attack if you answer. Their goal here is to separate you from your money.
Neighbor Spoofing Scams
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has warned of the following scams that are frequently repeated and often use neighbor spoofing.
Stealing Your Credit or Bank Account Information
Watch out for scam callers pretending to represent banks and credit card companies. They use a variety of tactics, such as bogus fraud alerts or promises of lowered interest rates, to steal your personal information and your credit. They posted this article with more information.
There are a lot of great charities to donate your money to, but unfortunately scammers try to imitate legitimate charities A little advanced research can ensure your contributions are reaching the intended recipients. This articles shows how to avoid some common holiday scam but the same methods can help you avoid scams all year long.
Older Americans and Medicare Card Scams
Robocall scams can often seem random, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes they are highly targeted – as with older Americans whose Medicare eligibility opens the door to health insurance fraud. You may not be in this category, but it may be useful to let your parents and grandparents know. Check out this article for more details.
Health Insurance Scams
These typically spike when open enrollment season opens allowing people to enroll in or change health care plans. But to many criminals, it is open season on consumers. Check out this post for more information.
Neighbor Spoofing with Your Number
Recently, we came home from a trip and had several messages on our phone from a woman who was pretty upset. She insisted that we stopped calling her.
My wife called her back and explained that scammers were apparently spoofing our number and that we didn’t make any of these calls. Thankfully, the scammers moved on to a different number rather quickly.
How to Avoid the Scams
The FCC lists several strategies for avoiding these scams. The first is the simplest:
Don’t answer any calls from unknown numbers. If you do answer and recognize a scam is in play, hang up.
Other recommendations include:
- If you answer the phone and the caller – or a recording – asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
- Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes” or “No.” (Scammers sometimes record your answer and then later use it as “proof” that you indicated that “yes” you understood.)
- Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
- If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.
- Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
- If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.
- Talk to your phone company about call blocking tools and check into apps that you can download to your mobile device. The FCC allows phone companies to block robocalls by default based on reasonable analytics. More information about robocall blocking is available here.