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Spoofing is when a caller falsifies information transmitted to your caller ID to disguise their identity. Phone scammers often use “neighbor spoofing” to make it appear that an incoming call is coming from a local number or the scammers spoof a number from a company or agency you may already trust. If you answer, scammers use a script in an attempt to steal your money or personal information. Here are some things to keep in mind that will help you avoid being spoofed.

Tips to avoid spoofing

You may not be able to immediately recognize that an incoming call is spoofed. Be careful about responding to requests for personal information and keep these tips in mind:

  • Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers.
  • If you answer the phone and the caller – or a recording – asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
  • Do not respond to questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes” or “No.”
    Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information.
  • 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 website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually receive a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source.
    Use caution if you are being pressured for information.
  • If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, 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 voicemail if you do not set a password.
  • Talk to your phone company about call blocking tools. The FCC allows phone companies to block robocalls by default based on reasonable analytics. More information about robocall blocking is available at fcc.gov/robocalls.

Check your voicemail periodically to make sure you aren’t missing important calls and to clear out any spam calls that might fill your voicemail box to capacity. By following the above tips, you can protect yourself from spoofing scams.

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