A new phone scam has been popping up recently, but with a strange new twist — your own number is calling you. Scammers are using this new tactic to phish for your personal information. Hundreds of residents in Central Valley, California, have reported receiving this scam phone call.
The "robodialer" dials and once the phone is answered, a person takes over on the other end asking them for personal information, like the last four digits of their Social Security number. The caller threatens that their AT&T® accounts have been compromised or will be closed, and that they must enter the last four digits of the account holder's Social Security number for verification to keep it active.
In another variation, the scammer asks for information pertaining to setting up their voicemail account. No matter what variation of the call you receive, scammers are only after one thing — your personal information. This information can potentially help them hack your accounts or steal your identity.
The Better Business Bureau® (BBB) offers up the following tips to protect you from becoming victim to the next phone scam:
- Do not trust caller ID
Victims fall for phone scams because they assume the number on their caller ID is the correct person. Scammers can easily spoof numbers to make it look like a certain person is calling you, when in reality they are not.
- Do not give out personal information
Any legitimate person or business who reaches out to you will already have your information on hand. If they do not, or if you receive a call out of the blue asking for your personal information just hang up.
- Scammers usually pose as a trusted source
Scammers usually pose as a trusted source to get any information they can out of you. If you hang up immediately on them, they will not be able to phish for that information.
- Do not press buttons
Many "robocallers" will prompt you to "press 9" to be taken off their call list. This will only do the opposite and flood your phone with even more calls. Pressing a number on the keypad alerts them that they have reached an active number.
- Beware of big name companies calling
Scammers impersonate big name companies, charities and legitimate businesses, hoping that you will be more inclined to give up your personal information to them. If you receive such a call hang up immediately, find the appropriate number on your own and call the business to verify.
- Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry
To cut down on the amount of calls you receive, you can register your phone number for free through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Do Not Call Registry. The Do Not Call Registry prohibits sales calls, so you may still receive political calls, charitable calls, debt collection calls, informational calls, telephone survey calls and calls from companies you have recently done business with.
- Do not answer
If you receive a phone call from a number you are unsure of, it is best to just let it go to voicemail. Any legitimate person or business will leave a message, but even if the scammer decides to leave you a voicemail, you will have time to think about what is being asked by them, instead of being pressured on the spot to give up your personal information.
If you receive a scam phone call, report it to BBB Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org/scamtracker or the FCC at www.fcc.gov.