Tip of the Week - May 5, 2016 - Don't Let Caller ID Fool You into a False Sense of Security

We all love Caller ID because it gives us a head's up on who is calling us, and  it allows us to pick and chose who and when we talk with someone.    But Caller ID can also lull us into a false sense of security, creating situations where we let our protective guard down.  Did you know scammers can actually get you to answer your phone by using a fake Caller ID, a number you recognize as Aunt Betty's or Granddaughter Nicole's?  This gets particularly confusing for senior citizens who haven't spoken to a relative in many months. 

"These scammers use a phone number you recognize in your Caller ID, you answer thinking it's someone you can trust and pretty soon they've tricked you in to something, more than likely giving them your personal information," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) Foundation Chairman Kenny Ehrman.   "Always be on guard when someone calls and quizzes you about your personal information or demands payment for something."

Faking someone's Caller ID is known as Caller ID spoofing and the Federal Trade Commission has tips for handling these types of calls:

  • If you get a strange call from the government, hang up. If you want to check it out, visit the official (.gov) website for contact information. Government employees won’t call out of the blue to demand money or account information.
  • Don’t give out — or confirm — your personal or financial information to someone who calls.
  • Don’t wire money or send money using a reloadable card. In fact, never pay someone who calls out of the blue, even if the name or number on the caller ID looks legit.
  • Feeling pressured to act immediately? Hang up. That’s a sure sign of a scam.

If you’ve received a call from a scammer, with or without fake caller ID information, report it to the FTC and the FCC.