State police warn of phone spoofing scam

The Delaware State Police this week issued an advisory in response to recent phone scams involving a “spoofed” phone number.

Delaware State Police said they were made aware of multiple incidents in which individuals received a phone call advising that they were under investigation. The caller, they said, asked the individuals to verify all of their information, and threatened to “put a hold on their Social Security number” if they did not comply.

The call, according to the DSP, is appearing on caller ID as a Delaware State Police-issued phone number. The caller suggested to the victims look up the phone number that they are calling from so that the victims would see that it is, in fact, a Delaware State Police-issued phone number.

A second scam incident was also reported this week in which the caller identified themselves as the “Delaware State Police Alliance,” requesting donations on behalf of the Delaware State Police. The call appears on caller ID to be originating from a Frankford-area phone number, police noted.

Caller ID spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to a caller ID display to disguise their identity. Spoofing is often used as part of an attempt to trick someone into giving away valuable personal information so it can be used in fraudulent activity or sold illegally.

The Federal Communications Commissions offered a number of tips to avoid spoofing scams:

• You may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Be extremely careful about responding to any request for personal identifying information.

• Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.

• If you answer the phone and the caller — or a recording — asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.

• Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes” or “No.”

• Never give out personal information, such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.

• If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on the account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website, to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source — particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.

• Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.

• If you have a voicemail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if the consumer calls in from their own phone number. A hacker could spoof their home phone number and gain access to their voice mail if they do not set a password.

• Talk to your phone company about call blocking tools they may have and check into apps that can be downloaded to a mobile device that can block unwanted calls. Information on available “robocall” blocking tools is available at fcc.gov/robocalls.

The tips were provided through the Federal Communications Commission’s website at https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/spoofing-and-caller-id.

The DSP noted that many of the scams are difficult to investigate. They will target persons of all age groups. The Delaware State Police is asking citizens to remember these tips in order to not become a victim of one of these scam artists.

Anyone who suspects they may have been a victim of such as scam is being told to contact their local law-enforcement agency. Information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or via the internet at www.delaware.crimestoppersweb.com.