Caller ID Spoofing and Phone Scams

Unwanted calls are at an all-time high nationwide with over 58 billion being reported in 2019. These unwanted calls include robocalls from spoofed numbers. It is likely that you may receive scam calls at some point, whether to your personal number or your campus phone. Below is some guidance to assist you in dealing with these types of phone calls.

How to Recognize a Spoofed Number

A "spoofed" number indicates that the caller is disguising their real phone number and is instead displaying a false number on the call. When you receive a call from a spoofed number, the false number is displayed on your caller ID. 

Many spoofed numbers imitate the geographic location of the recipient. For example, if your phone number is 253-xxx-xxxx, the scam call will likely display as originating from a 253 area code as well. 

If you are on a campus phone and receive a call from 91253879xxxx, the number is likely spoofed. Normally, you would only see the campus member's name and 4-digit extension if the call truly originated from our phone systems. 

How to Tell If a Phone Call Is "Voice Phishing"

Many scam calls attempt to impersonate a government agency. If a caller claims to be a government agent, chances are the call is not legitimate and they may be attempting to steal your money or trick you into divulging valuable personal information. Some government agencies, such as the IRS, use written mail as the official method of communication. Therefore, receiving a call can immediately be a red flag.

Some scam callers may be trying to gain access to your computer. Frequently, callers can impersonate technology companies such as Microsoft and claim to have detected malware on your machine or offer to install updates. Do not engage and never allow an unknown individual to have remote access to your computer or device. If you're unsure whether your university computer is infected, you can always reach out to the Service Desk at x8585. 

What to Do If You Pick Up a Spam Call

  • Hang up immediately and do not engage.
  • Never give out personal information.
  • Do not respond to any prompts, even if the prompt purports to remove you from future call lists. Pressing a button to respond to the prompt indicates to the caller that they have reached a legitimate number and it may increase the volume of robocalls you receive in the future.

General Tips

  • Do not answer calls from unknown numbers. If the caller leaves a voicemail, listening to it will help you determine if the call is legitimate. If it is, you can simply return the call. 
  • If you receive an inquiry over the phone from somebody claiming to be from a company or government agency, hang up first and do not provide any answers. You can then call the phone number listed on the company's website or on an account statement to verify whether any action is required of you. 
  • If you receive robocalls from the same number on your personal mobile device, you can block the number.