Spoofed Phone Numbers

Phone spoofing occurs when a scam caller contacts an individual with the intention of retrieving personal information or payment(s). This type of scam may take one or both of the following two forms: (1) call spoofing in which the caller sends false information to change what is displayed as the caller ID or (2) neighbor spoofing in which a telephone number similar to the recipient’s number is used to increase the likelihood of the person answering the call. A scammer using phone spoofing may identify themselves as a representative of a law enforcement agency, energy company, state agency, etc. to request payment. It is important to note that a government agency will not ask for payment in the form of gift cards and rarely provide phones as the only form of communication for payment of any type of debt.

How to Avoid Spoofing Scams:

  • Do not answer calls from unknown numbers. Allow each one to go to Voice Mail. Call the company back using the phone number provided on a bill, statement, or an official website.
  • If a caller asks you to hit a button to stop receiving calls, you should end the call. By hitting the button indicated, you may be notifying the caller that your number is valid and they in turn can sell that information to other telemarketers and/or scammers.
  • Use extreme caution if you are being pressured for immediate payment.
  • Do not respond to questions, especially those that can be answered with “yes” or “no” – scammers have been known to record these answers to use later to make unauthorized charges while impersonating you. For example, many use “Can you hear me?” to get you to respond by saying “yes.”

If you think you have been the victim of a spoofing scam, you can contact the Yale University Police Department at (203) 432-4400 or use the LiveSafe app to effectively communicate with our police department.

Source: Virginia Fusion Center (2021) “The Use of spoofed Phone Numbers in Scams”