If you have been receiving calls from a local area code, only to find out, it’s a telemarketer or someone potentially out to scam you, you’re not alone.
It’s known as Neighbor Spoofing, making it appear that someone you know could be on the other line. The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers not to fall prey to scammers.
When Karen Alcorn first started receiving phone calls from a (615) area code, she didn’t think much of it.
“It appears that it is a local number,” Alcorn said.
Then the calls became more frequent.
“Almost daily, like two or three a day probably,” Alcorn said.
Alcorn soon discovered they were Robocalls.
“Scam artists are intelligent people who work hard at what they do,” she said. “Unfortunately, they are doing it for the wrong reason.”
She then started outsmarting the callers.
“I block them,” Alcorn said. “I immediately go to settings and you block can block it.”
It turns out the phone numbers that showed up on her phone is known as Neighbor Spoofing.
“Typically, the first six digits looks similar to theirs,” said Robyn Householder, CEO & President of the BBB of Tennessee and Southern Kentucky. “They’re assuming it’s someone they know. It could be their doctor’s office, a company they are working with, only to find out that it’s a spam call once they answer.”
But how does it work?
“Voice Over IP technology allows for really for them to create a personality, a number if you will that is going to look like somebody you know or somebody calling from your area,” Householder said.
The BBB said many of the calls are from people up to no good.
“It could be a scammer that’s trying to take advantage of you by getting your personal information. Possibly it’s identity theft, possibly an investment scam, it can really be anything. The number one goal is to get you to open the phone.”
Alcorn has another tip for people who receive neighbor spoofing calls.
“If someone is not already programmed into your contacts, not to answer the phone,” Alcorn said. “If someone really needs you, they will leave a voice message and you call you back.”
So, what can be done to prevent these people from calling you?
“Make sure your cell phone number and your home number are on the Do Not Call Registry, that’s going to help,” Householder said. “Keep in mind especially your cell phone, you got the technology available to block that call from the future, so you’re not aggravated down the road from those same Robo callers.”
If you have been scammed and would like to report it to the BBB click here. There is also a Heat Map that shows what type scams are taking place across the country and in your community.
To add your number to Tennessee’s Do Not Call list, Click here.