“I got a call from myself”: scam alert!
If you receive a call from yourself, don’t pick up as it’s most likely a scam call. Scammers use number spoofing to pique your curiosity. Once it has rang out, report the scam to the Federal Trade Commision at reportfraud.ftc.gov.
Let dive deeper. What type of scam call is this? And why is it dangerous? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is spoofing?
Spoofing a caller ID is a practice used by scammers in order to get you to answer your phone. This simple yet effective tactic takes advantage of people’s curiosity, as seeing your own number can be scary but also intriguing.
So how do scammers spoof caller ID? Typically, they do this either by using a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service or through a website that offers caller ID spoofing services. Sometimes, they also use a special computer program that copies or spoofs your digits. If all this sounds alarming, it’s because it is.
What happens if you answer a call from your own phone number
Although answering a call from your own number is very much not recommended in the first place, sometimes it can just happen. Maybe you had a hard day, or perhaps you saw a different phone number at first. The point is even the best of us can end up answering such a call.
In most cases, scammers try one of two tactics. The first involves using dedicated technology to insert fraudulent charges onto your phone bill. With the second one, a scammer will try to trick you into divulging sensitive information, such as your Social Security number or credit card numbers. All in all, you can end up losing money or worse—having your identity stolen (and then losing money).
What you should and shouldn’t do when receiving spoofed calls
Your cell phone rings, and you see it’s your number; what should you do? The best approach is not to answer the call. Let it ring until it goes to voice mail. This is the safest and easiest way to deal with these types of situations.
Next, report the scam call to your phone company, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). You can also report it to your state’s Public Utilities Commission. If you have fallen victim to the scam and lost money, head to the nearest police station and file a report.
Under federal law, specifically under the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009, using caller ID manipulation with malicious intent is prohibited–“The Truth in Caller ID Act, and the Commission’s implementing rules, prohibit any person or entity from knowingly altering or manipulating caller identification information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.“
Now, as for what you shouldn’t do. Do not, under any circumstances, share any personal or sensitive information with the person on the other end of the line. No one from the government will ever call you asking for your Social Security number, the last four digits of your credit card, or your account number.
Other types of scam calls
Scammers won’t only display your own phone number to try to trick you. They use a wide variety of other methods as well. These include calling from phone numbers with the same area code as yours or showing as an unknown number altogether. In some cases, they even spoof a familiar number to appear legitimate.
If you’re fed up with all the scam calls you’ve been receiving, a smart move would be to opt out of the data brokers that are feeding your information to these scammers, even if only unintentionally. Without your phone number so easily available online, the chances of an illegal robocall disturbing you will decrease significantly.
There are two ways you can opt out of these websites. The first involves you manually sending out requests to hundreds of data brokers. However, this can take a lot of time. The second way is subscribing to a personal information removal service like Incogni that will automatically send out these requests on your behalf.
Whatever you end up deciding, remain vigilant and be mindful about what personal information you share online.