Be on the lookout for spoofing calls

By Georgia Sparling | Mar 10, 2017

Mattapoisett — Caller ID isn’t always reliable these days as some local residents are finding out.

Scammers and solicitors can mask their own numbers and make it appear they are calling from another phone number in an effort to get people to pick up the phone.

“There’s not really anything anybody can do because you don’t have the actual number they’re calling from,” said Mattapoisett Police Chief Mary Lyons.

It may not be possible to stop the calls, but it is important to be aware of them.

Caller ID spoofing, as it is called, may even appear as a local phone number with a familiar name or business. One Mattapoisett resident recently received a call that appeared to be from Rogers Gallery, located in town, only to find that the person on the other end was allegedly in the bill consolidation business. The same man’s name and number came up on a call to another resident in town.

The spammers use an Internet-based service to make the calls that allows them to mask their own number. It is illegal to spoof a call if the caller’s intent itself is illegal, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

“Under the Truth in Caller ID Act, FCC rules prohibit any person or entity from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongly obtain anything of value. If no harm is intended or caused, spoofing is not illegal,” states an article on the FCC’s website.

So residents need to be cautious, warns Lyons. Anyone who asks for personal information, including phone numbers, bank information and social security numbers, is almost certainly a fraud.

“Don’t give out any information to anybody,” Lyons said. “I don’t answer my phone if I don’t know who’s calling.”

Those who receive spoof calls are encouraged to report them on the FCC’s website, www.fcc.gov.

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