SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - They are known as "spoof" calls - where a caller deliberately falsifies information to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. We take a look at what can be done to stop them in this week's 'Don't be a Victim' report.
Chances are you have been on the receiving end of a spoof call. Consumers received 18 billion of them in 2017 - a 76 percent increase from the year before. In the past year, the FCC proposed over $200 million in fines against illegal spoofing by telemarketers and adopted new rules allowing phone companies to block calls that are likely fraudulent.
Still, the calls keep coming and some lawmakers have also had enough of them. The South Carolina House passed a bill earlier this month that makes it illegal for a telemarketer to use a South Carolina area code without a physical presence in the state.
"I've had people ask me, 'how are you going to enforce this?' Well, we are going to go through the FCC and interstate commerce and we are pushing the telephone companies, and most of them have been very receptive and have said, 'we are going to help you and we are going to push this very hard to put a stop to it," said Republican Representative Rick Martin on Newberry. The bill is now in the South Carolina State Senate.
All of the national wireless carriers now offer robo call prevention options that you should consider using if you are tired of getting spoofed. Check with your carrier about steps that you can take. Here's some important information to keep in mind if you answer one of these calls:
- Never give out personal information such as account numbers, social security numbers, or passwords.
- Use caution. Be careful if you are being pressured for information immediately.
- Confirm Inquiries. If you get a call from someone claiming to be from a company or agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the number on your account statement.
- Set a password for voicemail so the hacker can’t gain access to it.
- Block unknown and unwanted calls.
It should be noted that not all of these spoof calls have criminal intent. Many are selling legitimate services, but you do need to be careful so you don't become a victim. There are also many apps now available for smartphones that can detect spoofers that you may want to try.