Have you been Spoofed?

As we move full-speed ahead into our “Brave New Data World,” people are experiencing both wonderment and apprehension. The Internet, has brought a world of information, shopping and entertainment to our fingertips…the possibilities seem endless!  However, not everyone is using the internet for good.

This article centers around a scam that combines both the worlds of data and telephony, it’s known as Caller ID Spoofing.  Being unaware of this potential activity could cause you some serious grief.

Typically, we trust that the call we are receiving is originating from the number that is displayed on the caller ID screen.  However, this is not always the case. There are scammers out there that are using Voice over IP (VoIP) technology to fake or “spoof” Caller ID information.  Scammers fake telephone numbers to build credibility in order to conduct their scam.  They count on the fact that when we receive a call and our Caller ID screen reads Google, Microsoft or even the IRS, we will believe the call is really from one of those entities.  Add in a fast talking pitch man who sounds believable and you may be about to be scammed.

Isn’t this illegal?
Yep, many of the scammers come from outside of the country, but we have our fair share of homegrown criminals, as well.  Either way, we need to remember that there are some sketchy people who want to take advantage of others, which means we need to exercise a measure of caution.  If an unknown person calls you and they start asking for personal information or information about your computer, your first instinct should be to question the validity of the call.  There is nothing wrong with taking a moment to check the caller out.  A legitimate business will be happy to provide a telephone number so you can call them back. Or better yet, if you have a number for the business in your records, call that number.

What can you do to protect yourself against Caller ID Spoofing?
1.    When you receive a call from a telephone number that you do not recognize, don’t automatically assume that the caller is legitimate.  Raise a small red flag and obtain more verification.

2.    Never give credit card information out to someone who has called you.  Make sure that when conducting business over the phone that you have called the business, not the other way around.

3.    Use your Caller ID as a screening tool.  You can always call an unknown telephone number back.

4.    Before you call back, consider using an Internet search engine or reverse phone directory to see if the unknown telephone number is associated with a scam.