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‘Neighbor Spoofing’ is the new caller ID spoofing

That’s not a good neighbor calling when the number showing up on your caller ID is your own number.

“When your phone rings and it looks like a local call, you may be more likely to answer. Scammers count on this and can easily fake caller ID numbers,” wrote the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Division of Consumer & Business Education’s Emma Fletcher in this FTC alert. Consumer advocates call that caller ID spoofing.

Now a twist on spoofing, one I’ve reported before, is gaining traction, and the feds have a name for it: neighbor spoofing.

Fletcher said neighbor spoofing is when the scammers fake out the caller ID to make it show your number. The point is you become so curious that it is your number showing up that you can’t help but answer the call.

Don’t answer it. Neighbor spoofing is just like any other spoofing call, except it’s even more obvious — it’s your phone number! It’ll always be a scammer or telemarketer calling if your number is the one showing up. Your number can’t call your number, right?

Just like I advised in this previous #WiseWarning post, never answer a call you do not recognize on your caller ID, even if the area code is familiar, and never answer a call that reveals your own number on your caller ID. Even if you answer and don’t fall for the scam, you have acknowledged to the scammer’s automated system that yours is a legitimate number (remember, these calls are electronically and randomly generated). They will sell your number on mass mailing lists to other phishers, scammers and telemarketers. The unsolicited calls will skyrocket.

The less you answer calls you don’t recognize on caller ID or calls that show your own number, the more they will eventually taper off and stop. It may take a while, but the calls will diminish if you stay disciplined. Just let your caller ID do its job.

Consumers have asked me, “My voicemail answers the calls. Doesn’t that confirm to the spoofing system that my number is a real number?” Yes, it does…and the calls may increase for a little while. The key here, though, is human interaction. A spoofing scammer will not keep a consumer’s legitimate phone number on a call list if it never gets a real person on the line. Let your voicemail answer it. Just don’t engage personally with a spoofing call.

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