MOORESVILLE — Phone scammers are stealing phone numbers of local businesses to trick you into answering their calls.
It’s a growing trend impacting Indiana consumers called “neighbor spoofing,” in which scammers spoof local phone numbers belonging to your neighbor, doctor’s office, pharmacy and dry cleaner in an effort to get you to pick up the phone.
It happened to Richard Rosado, of Mooresville, a retired Navy veteran, when “St. Francis Vet” appeared on the caller ID. He thought the call was coming from a local business.
“I picked it up, and they said it was card services,” Rosado said. “They told me I could consolidate my credit cards, but I don’t have any credit cards. She was very adamant about it.”
Rosado was suspicious, so he hung up.
The number on the caller ID belonged to St. Francis’ Pet Hospital in Camby — a business victimized by scamming spoofers.
Call 6 Investigates sent an email and stopped by but no one has provided a statement from St. Francis Pet Hospital, but staff did seem concerned about what happened.
“I asked the pet hospital if they were trying to sell credit card services, and they said ‘no I don’t know what you’re talking about,’” Rosado said.
Rosado did not provide any of his personal information and did not lose any money. He contacted Call 6 Investigates in the hopes of educating others.
“That’s when I got ahold of you guys,” said Roado. “I could have easily fallen for it if I had any credit card debt I might be interested, but no, I wasn't going to take the bait this time.”
It’s almost impossible for the federal government and law enforcement to find the scam callers, because they continually cycle through different numbers and most operations are based overseas.
The Better Business Bureau provided these tips:
- Avoid answering calls from phone numbers you don’t recognize, even if they appear to be local. If it’s important, the caller will leave a message.
- If your own phone number is used in a spoof call, you may receive calls and messages from people asking why you called them in the first place. This can lead to a lot of confusion between the two parties, but knowing your own number can be used by scammers may help explain the situation.
- Be aware that phone numbers of local businesses, including doctor’s offices and/or insurance agents, may appear to be calling you. If you’re not certain whether the call is legitimate or a spoof, hang up and dial the known phone number for the contact to verify the communication, especially if personal and/or financial information is being requested.
- There are call blocking apps that may help decrease the amount of spam calls. Your phone carrier may also provide a similar service or offer advice.
- Make sure your phone number is on the National Do Not Call Registry . Though it is unlikely to prevent most scam calls, it will help to reduce calls received from legitimate telemarketers, which can be helpful in screening fraudulent calls.
Apps like NoMoRoBo and Robokiller can help you cut down on unwanted calls.
Call 6 Investigates checked with AT&T to see what they’re doing to address neighbor spoofing.
AT&T also offers several services you can download to help identify details on unknown calls and suspected spam.
The basic version of AT&T Mobile Security & Call Protect is free and Call Protect PLUS is $3.99 per month .
T-Mobile offers several free options for its customers including Scam ID, which allows you to immediately see when calls come in from known scammers.
Scam block allows you to block all known scammers before they reach you.
Name ID will also allow you to see the type of organization that may be calling, including telemarketers, political organizations and survey collectors.