Don't Get Fooled by Fake Caller IDs

Scammers are now disguising their phone numbers with caller IDs that purport to be from legitimate companies.

The next time you get a call from a seemingly reputable company, it might be a good idea to hang up.

That's because scammers are targeting people's wallets by disguising their fraudulent numbers with caller IDs that purport to be from legitimate companies.

Craig Massar said he got one such call from someone pretending to be with NBCUniversal. The NBC4 I-Team visited Massar at his home, and sure enough an NBCUniversal Caller ID came up on his telephone.

The call came in at 7:50 a.m., which piqued Massar's curiosity. "I get a lot of telemarketing, a lot of criminal calls," he said. "This was definitely out of the ordinary."

It was an automated call talking about government regulations for student loans, Massar said. Clearly the call was not coming from NBCUniversal.

The Federal Trade Commission says scammers use ID spoofing to generate fake caller ID information to entice people to answer the call. Police, government agencies and businesses have all been victims of the scheme.

In Massar's case, he selected a number to speak with an actual person and after a few exchanges blocked the phone number.

That's exactly what people should do: ignore the call, or if they do pick up, promptly hang up.

The FTC says people should never rely on the caller ID information to verify who is actually on the other end of the line. But if you do pick up a call, here's what you should do:

  • If you get a call claiming it's a government agency, hang up; government employees will not call demanding money or account information.
  • Never give out any personal or financial information to someone calling you.
  • If someone's calling you out of the blue, don't wire any cash or pay them a dime, even if the caller ID looks legitimate.

People should also remember that they can always report these calls, with or without fake caller ID information, to the FTC or the Federal Communications Commission.

NBC Owned TV Stations operate under NBCUniversal.

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