Raise your hand if you’ve ever received a call from a company, unsolicited, that got aggressive? Maybe the caller wouldn’t hang up or kept calling back. Maybe the caller asked for money or made a threat. Regardless, you were upset. But when you alerted the company of the bad deed, they gave you some line about phone “spoofing.” Your gut reaction might have been to call BS. But it’s not. Phone spoofing remains a thorn in the side of many consumers across America. According to an online survey conducted by Harris Poll for Truecaller, roughly 27 million Americans reported losing money to phone scams over the last 12 months, a 53 percent increase from 2014.
At Webroot, we’ve heard from our customers they’ve been targets of phone scammers and we want to help educate our community.
We encourage our customers to steer clear from doing business with any callers claiming to be
- tech support and requesting access to your computer to “fix a problem” and charge you;
- Webroot and trying to sell you a lifetime SecureAnywhere subscription.
Webroot teammates DO NOT make unsolicited outbound calls to customers. If you have been a victim of such callers purporting to be Webroot, file a complaint with the FCC. The FCC collects data to track down and prosecute scammers. (Anyone who is illegally spoofing can face penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation.)
What is Phone Spoofing?
Phone spoofing is when a scammer makes another person’s or company’s phone number appear on the receiver’s caller ID in an attempt to impersonate that individual or organization. The end goal is to gain access to your personal information and/or get you to pay for a fake service.
How can I protect myself?
As a consumer, you have rights and options.
- If a number repeatedly calls and doesn’t leave a message, block it.
- If you do pick up and it seems like a bogus call, hang up immediately. However, you may find yourself on the other end of a questionable conversation. In this case, place the caller on hold and call their incoming number. If someone picks up on the other end from the company, ask whether or not the person on hold is calling on their behalf. The key is not to share any personal information.
- Finally, educate your community. Help others in your life understand what phone spoofing is and how to protect themselves. You wouldn’t use a third party to call if you were stuck in Nigeria and needed a loan! Discuss scams you’ve received and how you handled with friends, so they are aware of the scenario and the appropriate actions to take. You also can refer them to discussion groups like the Webroot community for safety tips.
What can we do to stop spoofing?
The government and telecom industry are working together to put a stop to spoofing. The Truth in Caller ID Act, passed in 2009, prohibits 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.
Also, the tech and telecom industries are working on solutions. Similar to our anti-virus solutions for email and internet safety, there may soon be better anti-spoofing protections for voice.
Americans receive 15.8 spam calls (cell and/or landline) and 6.3 spam text messages in an average month. Until a complete solution is found, remain vigilant about protecting your personal information.