January 17th, 2021

Beware of phone number mimic scam


By Lethbridge Herald on November 28, 2020.

LEAVE IT TO BEEBER
Al Beeber
Lethbridge Herald
abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com
Scam alert! Recently, I’ve been getting calls on my cell phone which seem suspicious. I see a call with a 1, the 403 area code, plus oddly the first three digits of my own phone number and I see a message that it’s a caller from Lethbridge.
Seeing the 1 in front raised red flags because that shows they’re actually long-distance calls and since all of them have those same three first digits, I became skeptical. None of the callers leave messages which is also odd. On two occasions, I’ve gotten calls from people I don’t know who left voice messages asking me to call them back yet my phone showed no signs of butt-dialing.
I decided to do some investigating and sure enough according to the Better Business Bureau website, this is a scam. The BBB says this is, to quote that organization, “neighbour spoofing. . . . a caller ID spoof strategy being used by phone scam artists in an attempt to get people to answer the phone. For phone scams to be successful, scammers need people to pick up the phone so that can initiate the conversation. Neighbour spoofing uses a spoofed caller ID to trick a person into thinking somebody local, possibly even someone they know, is calling. According to experts, this may interest someone just enough to answer the phone,” says the BBB.
“Con artists and robocallers use technology to modify what phone numbers appear on caller ID, impersonating phone numbers from neighbours, friends and local businesses to try to get you to answer the call. In many instances, it is a random number with the same area code and first three digits as your own phone number,” says the BBB.
I knew something was fishy! So the people who thought I called them were actually seeing a scammer using my number. I’ve talked to others about this phenomenon and it appears I’m not the only one getting these types of calls among my friends and acquaintances.
Scammers are using this as yet another way of trying to get something of value.
According to BBB, “answering one of these caller ID-spoofed calls will indicate to the robocaller that you have an active phone line. Active phone lines are valuable to phone scammers and will often put you on what is referred to as a ‘sucker list,’ potentially opening your phone line to more scam calls.”
How do we protect ourselves? Easy — don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize. It’s that simple. I’m now not even answering calls from certain places I deal with because of this scam. If the call is important enough, people can leave a voice message.
In a year already made miserable because of COVID, this scam is an aggravation none of us need.
And if anyone needs another reminder, technology experts recommend using unique passwords for every online account a person has from banking to social media.
People who use the same passwords for all accounts are ready targets for scammers and hackers. Experts suggest using passwords that use a combination of letters, digits and special characters to deter theft.
Anyone with potential concerns about the safety of their passwords should check out out the website haveibeenpwned.com, a site which will let people do a search to see if their email has been compromised. This site will also let you create secure passwords as do other password managers on the internet. You can find a list of the best for 2020 at pcmag.com. Among them is Dashlane, which is probably one of the most well-known.
The issue with creating multiple passwords, of course, is remembering them. But anyone with a cellphone can easily create a list (in the Notes section on an IPhone, for example) and copy and paste as needed. it may be a hassle but it’s better than dealing with identity theft or theft from bank accounts.
At website nordpass.com, you can find a list of the 200 most common passwords of 2020. People who use any of these can consider themselves at high risk of being compromised.
Being safe in the virtual world is just as important as safety in the real world and by being cognizant of potential threats, we can lower the risk of harm to ourselves.
Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter

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