Consumer Scams

Be Aware of a Recent Spoofing Scam

November 20, 2015

Attorney General Jim Hood is warning Mississippians today of a phone scam that challenges even the savviest consumer.  “Scammers realize that consumers are much wiser and more likely to reject calls from unfamiliar numbers,” said Attorney General Jim Hood. “They use caller ID spoofing technology to impersonate a known or trusted phone number to trick potential victims into answering the phone.”

Here is how the scam works.  The phone rings, and we recognize the number on the Caller ID.  The caller id shows that it is a local business, a neighbor down the street, or even the consumer’s own name and number.   Because the number is known or familiar, the consumer answers the phone.

“Unfortunately, technology has evolved, and we can no longer fully trust that the number displayed is the number that is actually calling us,” said Attorney General Hood.  “Our advice has always been to answer only those calls from known numbers, but that won’t work when the caller identification has been spoofed, or is displaying incorrect information.”

Mississippi joined other states in 2010 to enact the Caller ID Anti-Spoofing Act (2010 Miss. H.B. 872) to regulate and prohibit caller ID spoofing. However, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the scammers had a first amendment right to spoof phone numbers and upheld the legality of “non-harmful spoofing” in 2012 when it overturned the state law.

The Attorney General’s Office offers the following information and tips to follow on these types of scams:

  • DO NOT answer the phone for a call that shows it is from your own number.  That is a sure sign of a scam.
  • REMEMBER THAT THE CALLER ID CAN BE MANIPULATED. Don’t completely rely on what appears on the screen. Scammers use technology that lets them display any number or organization’s name on your screen.
  • HANG UP as soon as you realize the call is a scam. Even answering simple questions in the affirmative or negative could be used to try to scam you.
  • BE SUSPICIOUS of anyone who is vague in identifying themselves on the phone.
  • NEVER WIRE OR SEND MONEY in any form to persons or organizations you do not know.
  • DON’T CALL THEM BACK.   If you receive a voice mail message, do not call the scammer back.
  • GUARD YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION.  Do not provide bank account, credit card or Social Security numbers to anyone calling you over the phone. Giving out personal information out could cause you to become a victim of identity theft.
  • DON’T BE INTIMIDATED BY THREATS OF ARREST.  Scammers may try to intimidate you by threatening to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested. Don’t believe them.  If your physical safety is threatened in any form or fashion, be sure to report this to local authorities.