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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: