Most of us have some sort of Caller ID on our phones, whether it’s on our mobile device or home phone. But what you likely don’t know is that Caller ID is an identity thief’s best friend, and it’s often used as a tool to steal people’s identities. So, is a scam likely Caller ID?
The issue that ID thief’s exploit is that we take what we see on our phone’s display as truth. If it says “Community Bank” is calling, for instance, and you have an account there, you would likely believe that Community Bank is, actually, calling you.
However, it might not be Community Bank at all…it could be a scammer.
How easy is it to set up fake Caller IDs?
Scammers can set this up in minutes. The easiest way is to use devices like Magic Jack, which you can get at most department stores for about $35. Devices like these connect to a computer or smartphone, allowing you to make calls from anywhere in the world. You can buy the necessary equipment without releasing your real identity, and then use a fake name to register with Magic Jack.
Scammers can also list the name they want the caller ID to appear as (“Community Bank,” for example). This essentially allows scammers to have an anonymous number, a fake name, and no accountability or way to be traced.
In addition to using a service like this, it’s also possible for scammers to use an online ‘spoofing’ service. These allow you to place calls from any caller ID, and it’s a nominal fee for the service. The caveat here is that it is possible to track these.
How do I protect myself from the Caller ID scam?
Here are some tips you need to know:
- Most Caller ID information is real, but don’t automatically take it for face value.
- Do not give any personal information over the phone unless you are sure of who you are talking to.
- If you believe the caller is not who they say they are, hang up and contact the company they claim to be from. Ask if you were talking to a staff member, and then continue the conversation.
- If you have a voicemail account, set up a password so you aren’t hacked.
- Even robocalls can also be spoofed, so don’t automatically believe that these are legitimate.
- Scammers often claim that they are from companies like Apple or Microsoft and that you have computer issues. They offer to fix it for a cost, but this is a scam.
- If you have accidentally given information to a scammer, contact the FCC as soon as possible.
For other scams you should be aware of, read our blog post on how to donate money to charities without becoming a victim of a scam. And be sure to download Hotspot Shield for free to protect your online privacy and security for both your mobile and desktop device.