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'Neighbor spoofing': Innocent residents accused of being phone scammers

Posted at 5:13 AM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 06:39:49-04

Are you experiencing an increase in the number of local calls to your home and/or cellphone? You’re not alone. 

This is called “neighbor spoofing” and it’s the latest caller ID spoof strategy some scam artists are using, and they are doing it from their computers.

In many instances, scam artist choose a random number with the same area code and first three digits as your phone number. In other cases, the number shows that it is coming from a local business or person in which you’ve previously contacted.

The Better Business Bureau says for phone scams to be successful, scammers need people to pick up the phone so they can initiate the conversation.

"Neighbor spoofing" uses a spoof caller ID to trick a person into thinking somebody local, possibly even someone they know, is calling. According to experts, this may interest someone just enough to answer their phone.

Eileen Riggs, an innocent person interviewed by WRT, was accused of being a scammer which she is not.

“A man called me very irate and said, 'Who in the heck is this, and why do you keep calling me?'” said Riggs. “I said I'm sorry! He said this was the fifth call he had gotten from my telephone number.”

Answering one of these caller ID spoofed calls will indicate to the robocaller that you have an active phone line.

Active phone lines are valuable to phone scammers and will often put you on what is referred to as a "sucker list," potentially opening your phone line up to more scam calls. 

The best advice is don’t pick up calls from numbers you don’t know and report the instances to the FCC. 

The FCC began seeking public comment on standards to help differentiate legitimate phone calls from those that attempt to trick consumers through caller ID spoofing.  

On May 10, the FCC announced a $120 million fine against Miami-area telemarketer Adrian Abramovich for spoofing 96 million telemarketing robocalls over three months.

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