Phone fraud, along with spam calls, is growing in popularity and frequency day by day. Scammers use various spoofing methods to trick people into picking up their calls and acquiring their valuable personal information.
Knowing how scammers spoof phone numbers can help you stay protected from nuisance calls. Read on to learn how spammers spoof numbers to appear from your local area.
What Is Call Spoofing?
Call spoofing is when a spam caller disguises themselves as a trusted number to commit malicious acts. They pretend to be someone else to gain access to other people’s sensitive information.
Scammers use caller ID spoofing technology to hide their actual phone number and instead make it look as if the call is coming from a legitimate phone number. For example, they can trick one into thinking that they are getting a call from a government agency, business, or even someone from your local area.
But is caller ID spoofing legal? Well, if the caller’s intent is harmless, spoofing is considered legal. However, if the person’s goal is to defraud or cause harm, then it is illegal.
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How Do Spam Callers Spoof Phone Numbers?
Usually, spammers carry out spoofing using a VoIP (Voice Over IP) service or IP phone, both of which use the internet to make phone calls. The process of caller ID spoofing is not that complicated, either.
- Spammers use auto-dialing software to instantly connect to one of the phone numbers from the list. Usually, such systems are used for robocalls.
- They decide what exactly you’ll see on your phone’s screen during the call—it can be any name or number.
- By choosing what numbers to dial, they can reach millions of people in just a couple of minutes.
This way, scammers can contact you from any spot of the world and make you think as if it’s someone from your local area calling or even your bank.
How Do Scammers Call From Numbers Similar to Your Own?
If you’ve ever received a nuisance call from a phone number that mimics your own, then it means that the scammer used the neighbor spoofing approach to trick you into picking up the phone.
Neighbor spoofing, also known as NPA-NXX spoofing, is a popular method that fraudsters apply to ensure that the person they’re trying to reach answers their call.
This type of caller ID spoofing became insanely popular because the phone number that the scammers use to call you will closely resemble one from your local area.
Usually, when people see an unknown phone number dialing them, they won’t pick up and let it go to voicemail. But if it contains their local area code, then the chances are, they’ll answer the call.
The process of neighbor spoofing is quite similar to all other spoofing methods that scammers use. First, the fraudsters search for usable phone numbers. Usually, they find their target numbers on the internet. They use a third-party service to generate their caller ID to make it resemble the phone number of the person they’re trying to reach.
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Who Is Calling Me From a Spoofed Number?
There are a few situations when caller ID spoofing is just an innocent act that poses no harm.
For example, when a doctor is calling a patient from a personal mobile phone but wants the person to think that the call is coming from the office. However, many scammers out there use spoofing as the chance to obtain anything of value from people, such as money or personal information.
Some of the major phone scams include:
- Technical support calls
- Bank fraud calls
- Windows tech support scam calls
- Insurance scams
- Fake charity appeals
- IRS scam calls
- Computer repair scam calls
- Investment scams
- Healthcare scams
If you’re unsure whether the call you’re getting is real or a scam, check out our article on the telltale signs you’re on the phone with a scammer. Also, always remember to stay vigilant when picking up a call from an unsolicited phone number.
How to Protect Yourself From Spoofed Calls?
It may seem that the spam call epidemic is never-ending. Although it is partially true, there are ways you can minimize your chances of receiving those annoying phone calls. Here’s what you should do to protect yourself from spam callers:
- Put your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry list. This won’t prevent fraudsters from reaching out to you but will stop telemarketing calls.
- Reach out to your phone carrier. Most carriers offer either free or paid services that may be quite effective in the battle against scammers.
- Get a third-party call-blocking app. Such an application can help you minimize the number of spam calls and robocalls that your phone gets. There are both free and paid options, and they can work on any smartphone platform.
You can also block the nuisance scam phone numbers. You can do it on any phone type—Android, iPhone, or on any other smartphone. It’s even possible to block scam numbers on landline phones to make sure that they stop bothering completely.
Of course, the best way to minimize your chances of getting scammed is not to answer calls coming from unknown phone numbers. If it’s someone important calling you, they will leave you a voicemail, and you’ll have the possibility to return that phone call.
But if you’ve already picked up your phone, and began to question whether that call is legitimate, never give out any personal information.
Just hang up.
If the called identified themselves as someone from your bank, then call your bank by yourself and ask them whether they were the ones previously calling you.
Don’t Let Phone Scammers Trick You
It’s not possible to completely protect your phone from scam callers. Therefore, you should always be on your guard when receiving a call from an unknown phone number. With the various spoofing methods, scammers can even make it look as if it’s someone from your local area calling, making it harder to detect a scam number.
Unfortunately, not only phone calls can be coming from fraudsters. Scammers can even forge fake emails or exploit your email address causing damage to your identity.