With all the attention given today to scams over the Internet, it’s easy to neglect classic scams like con artists using the phone to exploit people. You may think that you’re safe because you have a smartphone with caller ID, but thanks to new spoofing tactics, reliable defenses like caller ID can no longer be depended upon to safeguard you from telemarketer scum.
The problem is that scammers have figured out how to spoof caller ID by using phone numbers and names of trusted organizations when their call shows up on your phone. This tactic is on the rise and is one reason why there’s a recent increase in unsolicited telemarketing calls. In fact, just last year USA Today reported that in a six month period fraudulent phone calls surged to over 1 million calls made--an increase of over 50 percent.
In some cases, scammers have even figured out how make the name of your bank show up on your caller ID. Once you pick up the phone the con is on. They will pose as a representative from your bank in an attempt to get you to divulge your sensitive financial information, which they will then use to clean out your account.
With this new phone spoofing technology at their disposal, scam artists are finding new ins to get you on the horn. Whereas previously, a phone scammer’s call would be quickly disregarded by a simple glance of your phone because of the two words “unknown number,” now scam artists are able to select a name for their phone number that they think will get them past your defenses. Coupled with how easy it is for a scammer to research you over social media and find out what you’re into, and you can see why phone spoofing needs to be taken as a serious threat for modern businesses.
For example, one favorite phone scam is for the con artist to pose as a charity. Remember that press release you published about how your company supported such-and-such Beaumont charity? It wouldn’t take much for the con artist to come across the article and then call your office posing as your favorite charity. They would then be so bold as to ask your business for a follow-up donation (just make the check out “To Cash”).
Phone spoofing is also a favorite tactic for scammers looking to rip off major corporations. When a company is so big that a local manager may not know anyone at the district level, then a scammer may be able to pull off a con by calling the local manager with a spoofed number of the district office. They would then pose as an important executive that the local manager has likely never talked to before.
How can you protect yourself from phone spoofing scams? As with any scam, if something doesn’t feel right in your gut, then it’s okay to back out and hang up--better safe than sorry. If the call comes from an organization that you work with and you have their official phone number on record, then tell the caller that you have to go and that you will call them back. You can then return their call on the official phone number, and if the person on the other line has no idea what you’re talking about, then you’re previous caller was a scam artist.
You can also protect yourself by using technology that gives you analytics tools so that you can know more about who's on the other line. With solutions like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) you can find out where exactly in the world the person is calling you from, and if it doesn’t match up, then you should hang up.
Be on your guard; because these days, you never know if the person calling you is who they claim to be.