CONSUMER ALERT: Scammers Use Call Spoofing Technology to Defraud Consumers

August 6, 2019

ATLANTA, GA – Attorney General Chris Carr is warning the public about imposter schemes in which scammers use call spoofing technology to convince consumers to pay money and/or provide their financial or personal identifying information.

“Many people rely on caller ID to help them determine whether a call is legitimate or a scam,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “Unfortunately, with the advent of spoofing technology, you can’t always trust your caller ID. While we work with federal officials to crack down on illegal robocalls and spoofing technology, the Department of Law will continue to remain vigilant and provide alerts to help Georgians stay ahead of scammers.”

What is spoofing?

Readily-available spoofing technology allows scammers to falsify the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity and lend credibility to their schemes. The con artists perpetrating these imposter scams alter the caller ID so that it displays the actual number and/or name of a legitimate organization. Although the details vary, the scams generally present an urgent scenario requiring consumers to immediately pay money, provide access to bank or credit card accounts or share their Social Security number.

Even government entities can be spoofed. For example, a scammer may claim to be with the IRS, FBI or local law enforcement and threaten arrest if the consumer does not pay money or provide access to their accounts. When a consumer recognizes a phone number as legitimate or sees “IRS,” “FBI” or the name of another trusted entity in the caller ID, they are more likely to fall for the scam.

What can I do?

To avoid falling prey to call spoofing, do not trust caller ID alone to verify a caller’s identity. If you think there may truly be an issue with your account or other cause for concern, do not provide any information to the caller. Instead, hang up and call the actual phone number listed on the organization’s website or the number that appears on a bill or statement you received from the organization.

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division encourages consumers to watch out for these red flags which may indicate a scam:

  • Use of scare tactics, e.g. threatening arrest if you don’t act now, telling you a loved one is in danger, or that your computer has been hacked
  • Being asked to pay money in order to receive a prize
  • Pressure to act immediately
  • Insistence that you wire money or pay via gift cards
  • Get-rich-quick and other promises that sound too good to be true
  • Promises to recover money you’ve lost in other scams, for a fee 

Our office will continue to urge the Federal Communications Commission to stop the proliferation of illegal robocalls and spoofing.  We are encouraged by the steps the FCC took last week to ban malicious caller ID spoofing of text messages and foreign calls.