Neighbor Spoofing: Who else is using your phone number

Published: Feb. 1, 2018 at 7:44 PM CST
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Scammers are using a new trick to get you to pick up the phone. It's called neighbor spoofing, and it's when scammers call from numbers with local area codes.

"We'll get 20 to 30 calls a day," says David Hansen, an Equipment Operator at the Minto AG Center. "So you go up there and you answer it and it's local prefix numbers - and it ended up, it's a robocall."

Hansen says 90% of the calls he gets at work are scammers - forcing him pick up the phone because they're using local numbers that could be customers looking for help.

"And it's kind of costly because you have to take the time to set stuff down, go answer it, and go back to work," Hansen says. He adds - the constant calls could equal thousands of dollars in lost productivity.

But scammers don't only go after businesses.

"Scammers will go after businesses and they'll go after individuals. So it can happen to anybody," says Jessica Schindeldecker, the Crime Prevention and Public Information Officer with the Fargo Police Department. "They can take out mortgages, or loans and credit cards in your name."

Schindeldecker recommends not answering the phone for numbers you don't know - but you'll be ok if you happen to answer as well. "If you answer the phone and you find out that it's a scammer, the best thing to do is just hang up," she adds. You can also report the call on the Federal Trade Commission's website.

But for people who have to answer like David Hansen -

"You can put them on the no-call list, but they use so many different numbers, so you can't really cut them out, it seems like there's no stopping them," Hansen says.

And with neighbor spoofing, your identity isn't the only thing on the line -so is your reputation.

"They basically will just punch in a number that looks local there and so if someone calls them back - it goes through to the person who actually owns that and they have no idea it's happened," Schindeldecker says. That means someone could be using your number to scam others.

"And one time I even called the number back - and I asked the guy - you're a telemarketer? He says no, I've gotten three calls today because - people are calling mad because they're calling them," Hansen says.

"We've gotten calls about that, and saying that you know, 'I called this person back and they yelled at me,'" says Schindeldecker.