GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Some phone scammers are using a tool called spoofing to try to trick you into giving them money or to cover their tracks.
Spoofing allows anyone to fake the number a call appears to be coming from. Users can choose which number they want to show up on the recipient’s caller ID. Scammers use an app or card to pull it off. It generally costs about $.06 per call.
Authorities say it’s becoming more common in crimes.
“Right off the bat, before you even pick up the phone, you already trust, you’re already connecting,” Grand Rapids Police Department Lt. Pat Merrill explained. “You see that name and number pop up, and you say, ‘Oh, that’s my cousin Becky. Oh, I know Becky.’ You’re ready to talk to Becky. Somebody over there has already gotten in the front door of your mind in that relationship with Becky.”
Scammers could also spoof the number of your bank or another legitimate business. They try to trick you into giving them money or personal information so they can take money from your accounts.
Spoofing also lets callers disguise their voices.
It works with texting, too.
The only way to avoid being fooled is to ask questions. You can also hang up and call the number back. It will go to the phone actually connected to the number.
It is illegal to use spoofing to defraud someone. Under the federal Truth in Caller ID Act, spoofer can face a fine of up to $10,000 per incident.
People who receive spoof calls can report them to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at its website.
Law enforcement is exempt from federal rules against spoofing if courts have authorized it.