The most recent phone scam makes it seem like you are getting a phone call from yourself.
If you get a phone call from your own number, don’t answer; this is the most recent cell phone scam that is going around and could put your security and personal information at risk.
People across the country have been receiving these phone calls, with some answering and others missing the call or deliberately ignoring it. Donny Claxton talked to WFAA about his experience late one night:
“My phone starts ringing and at that hour of the night, you are alarmed at who is calling you. […] I look at the phone, and it’s me and I am looking. How am I calling myself? And I look at my phone. And there is no one there. And then it hangs up.”
Claxton isn’t the only one experiencing this.
Anson Massey, from Waco, Texas, picked up the phone. He told KXXV:
“I picked it up, and there was a voice on the other end, and it said my account had been compromised through AT&T.”
Massey wasn’t fooled, since he “thought it was odd. We get those all the time but never from my own number.”
So, he decided to record the phone call.
“Your account has been flagged for security purposes. After the tone, please enter the last four digits of the primary account holder’s social security number.”
Massey made the right decision and hung up without entering the information. Instead, he called AT&T right away. They confirmed that his account was fine and complimented him on not giving away any information.
What happened to Claxton and Massey, and is happening to numerous others across the country, is known as spoofing.
Phylissia Landix, from the Better Business Bureau, explained this process to WFAA.
“Spoofing is when someone who shouldn’t have it will take a computer program that will disguise a telephone number, and you will get a phone call from what it looks like yourself.”
According to Landix, spoofing can help the scammers in two ways. They may try to trick you into giving up information by posing as your phone company’s account, hoping to get your social security number or something similar. They can also use technology that inserts fraudulent charges onto your upcoming telephone bill.
Landix says that:
“The longer time you spend on that phone, the greater chances they can get something done and insert the fraudulent charge.”
There is something you can do to avoid most of these issues.
- If you get a phone call from an unknown number or one that seems odd (such as your own phone number), don’t answer the call.
- You should also check your monthly phone bill to ensure no fraudulent charges were added.
- If possible, consider adding yourself to the Do Not Call registry as well.
- If you do receive a phone call from a suspicious number, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission, as well.
Unfortunately, other than being smart about giving out information and answering phone calls, there isn’t much you can do. Adam Price, also from the Better Business Bureau, told KXXV:
“The reality is… a lot of these cons and scammers are coming from overseas. They’re outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. government.”
These scammers are even using recent data breaches to create a feeling of legitimacy and get information.
Avoid problems by never giving personal information out over the phone unless you are positive about who you are talking to – and preferably dialed the number yourself. Just let calls from unknown numbers go to voicemail. If it is important, the person will leave a message and you can call them back.