Phone Spoofing and Robocall Scams

Scammers use software to pose as legitimate businesses or officials on the phone. Take steps to protect yourself from these scams.

Step 1:Recognize

Red Flags of Phone Spoofing and Robocall Scams

Be suspicious of any call that:

  • Asks you to pay for something in gift cards or wire transfer
  • Threatens you with arrest or other legal action if you don’t immediately pay a debt
  • Asks for personal information like your Social Security number, date of birth, or bank account information
  • Leaves a recorded message that asks you to call back a number with a 900 area code
  • Calls from an unfamiliar or unknown number
  • Has poor audio quality or uses a computer-generated voice
  • Asks you to press a button to stop getting calls, which actually signs you up for more
  • Uses your name or personal information without asking permission first
  • Is a sales call that you didn’t sign up for
  • Comes from a number that’s very similar to your own
  • Uses high-pressure tactics to get you to buy something
  • Asks for charitable donations that can’t be verified
  • Claims to represent a government agency
  • Offers a free prize if you just pay shipping and handling

Step 2:Immediate Actions

If you received a robocall and/or provided sensitive information remember, it can happen to the best of us. There’s a few actions you can take to move forward:

  • Block the phone number that is being used for the robocall.
  • If you provided financial information, like your credit card number or bank account information, contact your bank or credit card company right away. They may be able to help you cancel the transaction or get your money back.
  • If you sent funds via gift card or money transfer, report the scam to the issuer. They might be able to help you stop the transaction. Find their contact information by visiting their legitimate website.
  • If you provided personal information, like your Social Security number, you may be at risk for identity theft. Keep an eye on your credit report and financial accounts for any unusual activity, and consider placing a freeze on your credit.
  • Tell your friends and family about what happened so they can be on the lookout for similar scams.
  • Consider using a call filtering app. Check with your phone provider to see if they have any options included in your plan.
  • Save all information and messages provided to you by the scammer. You may need to provide this information to law enforcement if you file a report.

Step 3:Report

Reporting any type of cybercrime, including phone spoofing and robocalls, is imperative to help others avoid being scammed. As a society, the more people that report online scams and fraud, the more national reporting data that is collected, and the better chance law enforcement has to catch the criminals and decrease cybercrime.

Step 4:Recover

Learn the Three Golden Rules to Spot a Scam

Scammers often utilize tactics to encourage you to act quickly and will use false information to persuade you to send money or personally identifiable information (PII). When faced with a questionable situation online, always follow the three golden rules to spot a scam:

Slow it down — Scammers often create a sense of urgency. They may be pushy or aggressive in their requests. Take your time and ask questions to avoid being rushed into a bad situation.

Spot check — Do your research to double check that the organization contacting you is who they say they are. Conduct an internet search by looking up the organization who contacted you followed by words like “scam” or “complaint.”

Stop! Don’t send — Scammers will try to steal your money by rushing you into paying with unconventional payment methods like gift cards or wire transfers. If they insist you pay your debt in the form of gift cards or by wire transfer, it’s a scam.

Take 5 Steps for Better Online Security

It’s important to strengthen your online security to help avoid all types of online scams. Take action to improve your digital posture by following these steps:

  1. Implement Multi Factor Authentication (MFA): Passwords are generally easy for scammers to crack, and even if you use strong passphrases, there’s still the possibility that a cybercriminal can obtain your passphrase in a data breach. Implementing MFA is a great way to maximize your security and ensure that you are the only one who can gain access to your accounts. MFA should be implemented on all accounts where it is available. Check your account’s security settings to see if it is something you can set up.
  2. Update Your Privacy Settings: Privacy settings allow you to control your personal information (name, address, phone number, date of birth, financial details, photos or videos, etc) and how that information is used. Review your privacy settings on all of your accounts including your social media accounts. Consider restricting who can see your friends list, contacts, photos and posts.
  3. Activate Automatic Updates: Automatic updates are a set of changes to an app, software or operating system that are automatically pushed by the developer to fix or improve it. Oftentimes, cybercriminals take advantage of security flaws to plant malicious software on your devices. By activating automatic updates, you will automatically patch security vulnerabilities to protect your data.
  4. Use a Password Manager or Create Strong Passphrases: A password manager is a software tool that securely stores all of your login credentials in one place, allowing you to create and manage strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts. If you are unable to afford a password manager, use strong passphrases. A passphrase is a combination of random words or a sentence that is much longer and more complex than a typical password. Using a passphrase instead of a password makes it much harder for hackers to guess or brute-force their way into your accounts.
  5. Learn the Elements of a Phishing Attempt: Familiarize yourself with the elements of a phishing email. Phishing emails tend to include a sense of urgency and multiple grammar and spelling errors. If they are asking you to reveal personal information, be suspicious. If you get a strange email, try contacting the company another way to confirm they sent that email. If the email is suspicious, mark it as spam.

TestimonialHear from Other Victims

Without, I don't know if I would have been able to react as quickly to protect my personal information.
Mary - Indianapolis, IN