Don’t always rely on your caller ID. It may not tell you where a call is truly coming from.
March 9, 2017
The number on your caller ID may appear to be a local number, when the caller is actually located in another country. For example, a call that appears to be coming from Ohio might be traced to an internet address in India.
Scam artists often place calls over the internet or use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones. This allows callers to use area codes and phone numbers that are linked to a particular city or state, even when the callers are nowhere near that location.
Scammers are able to change phone numbers quickly and cheaply. Unlike traditional telephones, VoIP doesn’t rely on a wired network to operate, so numbers can be changed without regard for geographic limitations.
Scammers also may use computer and phone applications (apps) to “spoof” phone numbers that appear on caller ID. An incoming call may appear to be coming from a local court, from “911,” or even from your own phone number, when the number is actually spoofed.
To protect yourself:
- Be skeptical of the phone number that appears on your caller ID. It may not tell you where the caller is located. Phone numbers often have nothing to do with a caller’s physical location.
- When in doubt, hang up or don’t answer a call.
- Don’t respond to suspicious calls, even if the call prompts you to press a button to “opt out,” or the caller leaves you a threatening message saying you must call back right away. Responding to the call may trigger even more calls, because it signals that yours is a legitimate phone number.
- Never provide money or personal information to someone who calls you unexpectedly, even if it appears to be a local call. Provide information only if you’ve initiated the call and you know who is taking your information.