MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - They've spoofed private citizens' phone numbers. They can even spoof your caller ID to make your number show up when they call you.
Now scammers have 877-382-4357 popping up on consumers' caller ID devices. That's the toll-free number of the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Response Center. "It's still safe to call the Consumer Response Center, and it's also safe to report scammers online here," wrote FTC Consumer Education Specialist Andrew Johnson in this blog post. "If you've submitted a report or request to the center, the FTC might call you for additional information. But we won't call you from 877-382-4357. And the FTC will never ask for money or for sensitive information such as your Social Security number, date of birth, or bank account information."
It's a scam artist's latest spin on spoofing: using robo-dialers, burner apps and disposable cell phones to make any number they want appear on your caller ID. It's a trick to disguise the call's true origin. Most often, they'll use a familiar area code. Or a number that has the same prefix (first three numbers after the area code) as yours. Or your own number.
The rule's the same for all of them: never answer a call you do not recognize on your caller ID, even if the area code or prefix is familiar -- and especially if it is your own number appearing on the device.
The FTC offered more protection tips on caller ID spoofing or unsolicited telemarketing calls:
* If you get a strange call from a government phone number, hang up. Go to the government agency's website to check it out.
* Neither give out nor confirm your personal or financial information to someone who calls you. It's OK if it's a call you initiated to a source you sought out and verified, but you should never share private information with an unsolicited caller.
* Never wire money or send money using a re-loadable card. Never pay anyone who calls you out of the blue.
* Hang up if the caller's pressuring you to act quickly. That's a sure sign of a scam.