The caller ID appears like that of your bank on your phone. The area code and prefix match exactly what is listed on their website.
The voice on the other end of the line is asking you some very personal questions.
However, something feels…off. You hang up.
This happened to Bank of Luxemburg customers in Luxemburg, Wisconsin.
The bank received complaints from their customers about a scam in which someone with a foreign accent calls from a Bank of Luxemburg caller ID, says they work for the bank and then requests personal information.
What is caller ID spoofing?
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), this type of scam is called “spoofing.” In a nutshell, “spoofing” is when someone calls you using a fake caller ID that resembles a familiar caller ID.
Most of us will not answer a call if we do not recognize the caller ID. However, the caller ID feature is manipulated by the spoofers who dance around as your bank, creditor, insurance company, the government or even your own phone number. And, because there is a familiar number on the line, those receiving the call are more likely to answer.
We’re no stranger to email spoofing, in which the email we receive appears to be from someone we know. We click the link in the email and now we’ve downloaded a virus, sent our contact information to data collection agencies or even worse, lost money.
Why does caller ID spoofing happen & is it legal?
Perhaps you signed up for a mailing list and included your phone number. Seems innocent enough, but the contact data could be sold to a company that sells it to a company, and so on. Ultimately, it’s hard to track.
Under the Truth in Caller ID Act, FCC rules prohibit any person or entity from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information “with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value”. If the calling party did not intend or cause any harm, the spoofing incident is not illegal.
How can you stay protected from caller ID spoofing?
The FCC has four great tips to help you stay protected from spoofing:
- Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
- If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request.
- Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
- If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voicemail if you do not set a password.
If you receive a call and you suspect your own caller ID information has been falsified, or you think the rules for protecting the privacy of your telephone number have been violated, you can file a complaint with the FCC.