It's a sad day when you're too worried to answer your own phone. However, with the recent onslaught of robocalls and scams, it's best just to let your phone go to voicemail, warns the U.S government.
That's pretty easy to do when your caller ID shows a phone number you don't know. It's a lot tougher to do when your caller ID appears to be from a familiar number or company.
Unfortunately, if it's a scammer on the other end, you may not know it. They can pretend to be your flood insurance company, for instance.
If you live in states like Texas and Florida that were whacked by hurricanes the past few months, you might divulge information like your name, address and credit card numbers to anyone who appears to be helping. You may be desperate.
You won't believe this. Scammers are now pretending to be you. It's called spoofing.
That's right. An untold number of people have recently been receiving phone calls with the caller ID showing that you're calling yourself.
Keep reading for more details about this frightening new scam and for a few simple steps you must do to protect yourself. See below for a tweet from someone who received one of these calls.
What is Spoofing?
If you live in a part of the country that was hit by a hurricane or another natural disaster, you may be familiar with spoofing. Or, if you've received robocalls from scammers pretending to be from the IRS, you've been spoofed, too.
Spoofing is when scammers manipulate your caller ID. They may be calling you from Russia, China or some other faraway location. But your caller ID might show a phone number with your area code.
The idea is that, if the number looks legitimate to you, you might answer the call. Then the scammer scares you into sharing your personal information and credit card numbers.
Spoofing is illegal, according to the FCC. But criminals don't care, especially if they're overseas. What are the consequences if they can't be caught?
Of course, scammers are clever and they're often professionally trained to scare you. They're also always adapting to new technology to trick you.
That's where this new type of spoofing comes in. If you see a call coming in from yourself, they think you may be so intrigued that you answer it.
Bonus: Keep reading for a special tip from Kim Komando about robocalls.
What You Must Do
Be careful about answering your phone and divulging information to anyone. Here are a few tips to keep your ID and your money safe.
1. Make sure all your phones are registered with the FTC's National Do-Not-Call registry.
2. Call your cellphone provider and ask them to sign you up for their scam alerts, like T-Mobile's Scam ID.
3. Download an app like Nomorobo to alert you to potential scammers and robocalls.
4. Do not provide personal information such as your mother's maiden name, Social Security number or passwords if you did not initiate the phone call.
5. Hang up and call the company or government department if someone says they're calling from a reputable organization like the IRS.
6. Make sure your voicemail is setup with a password - Hackers can access your voicemail if it's not protected.
7. Don't skip this step! Please warn your family about robocalls and spoofing and tell them about the Do-Not-Call registry.
Many younger people may not know that the Do-Not-Call registry will block unwanted calls from their smartphones. Millions of people in that age group are glued to their phones, yet they may not know how to spot potential dangers.
We've been warning you for years that scammers use technology to make millions of phone calls each year. They set up their computers to automatically call one phone number after another, nonstop.
Those calls quickly add up to dozens and hundreds of calls a day, then thousands and then millions. You've almost certainly received these calls.
Typically, you answer the phone and you hear silence or some clicking. It's the computer transferring you to a person who will complete the scam. Just hang up!
Schemes like these are spreading quickly. That's why you need to know what to watch out for and how to handle them when you inevitably receive a robocall.
With Kim's free podcast, you can learn everything that you need to know while doing other tasks. Simply click the play button below and leave the tab open while you work around the house or online.