As anyone who regularly reports on or hears stories of scams and consumer fraud can tell you, it often seems like scammers are getting more and more sophisticated by the day.
In fact, in many cases, a lot of consumers don’t even have an inkling that they’re being targeted by an individual or group with a malicious intent – until it’s too late.
Recently, the FTC’s Division of Consumer and Business Education published an excellent post highlighting one area where scammers are getting more technologically savvy – by using a method that many consumers may not have even heard of before now.
As the FTC’s Emma Fletcher explains, the technique is called “neighbor spoofing,” and it occurs when a scammer fakes a caller ID number to make it look like it’s coming from the consumer’s area code. In many cases, the number that shows up on a consumer’s caller ID screen “can match the first six digits of [their] own number.”
Why does this technique work? As Fletcher puts it:
“When your phone rings and it looks like a local call, you may be more likely to answer… The urge to answer can be tough to resist, since you might worry it’s a neighbor who needs help, or the school nurse.”
In the post, the FTC also reminds consumers that, if they feel that they are being targeted by these “imposter” numbers, there are preventative steps they can take, including:
- Adopting a call-blocking service from your mobile carrier or a third-party
- Registering with the national Do Not Call Registry
- Reporting unwanted calls directly to the FTC, using the free tool available here
There are also other steps that consumers can take to help protect themselves from the risk of fraud, including educating themselves on the warning signs of an offer that “too good to be true,” and learning to recognize the payment methods favored by scam artists. In many cases, it may also help for consumers to acquaint themselves with their state and local consumer protection authorities, including their state’s Attorney General and, perhaps, the BBB chapter for their region.
For more on this fascinating story – including countless comments and personal stories from consumers who have been experienced “spoofing” – we encourage you to read the full blog post from the FTC, which is available here.
Led by Attorney Michael D. Finn with 50 years of experience, the Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm specializing in timeshare law. Our lawyers understand vacation ownership as well as the many pitfalls of the secondary market of timeshare resales. If you feel you have been victimized by a timeshare company, contact our offices for a free consultation. Know your rights as a consumer and don’t hesitate to drop us a line with any questions or concerns.