What Is Neighbor Spoofing?
If you own a phone, chances are you’ve experienced this scenario: you get a call or text from an unknown caller I.D., but you notice that both the area code and the first three digits of the unfamiliar number match yours. Your intuition tells you to answer: if the number is local, it must be someone you know – but when you do, it’s a telemarketer, scammer, or robocaller.
This is what has come to be known as ‘neighbor spoofing.’
Why You’re Getting Calls From Numbers That Look Like Yours
There are two types of neighbor spoofing, otherwise known as NPA-NXX spoofing, to look out for:
- When robocallers use a number with the same area code and exchange as your own, a.k.a., the first six numbers.
- When scammers impersonate and modify phone numbers from neighbors, friends, and local business to entice you to pick up the phone.
Neighbor spoofing isn’t just a threat to the security of your personal information, but it’s also illegal. Despite this, 2.4 billion robocalls were made in the U.S. in September 2015 alone – nearly twice the amount made that time the year before, according to Consumer Reports.
How Does Neighbor Spoofing Work?
The people behind these calls prey upon your instinct to pick up the phone if the number trying to reach you looks like a local one. It’s tempting to believe that a number that looks almost exactly like yours really is that of a someone in your community but this usually isn’t the case. The targets who are the most likely to respond to such calls and give away their information are more vulnerable populations, such as the elderly. These tricks and mind games rely on one assumption: that people would prefer to risk answering a scammer’s call rather than missing an important call.
How Can I Stop Neighbor Spoofing?
Use Call Blocking Services Or Apps
Mobile apps, features built into your phone, cloud-based services, call-blocking devices, or services provided by your phone service carrier can help when trying to weed out unwanted spam calls and neighbor spoofing. Some of these services may cost money, but can help enormously when trying to protect yourself against scammers.
Register Your Number With The Do Not Call Registry
It’s not a foolproof method for blocking neighbor spoofing, but adding your phone number to the Do Not Call Registry can prevent telemarketers from trying to reach you. However, only sales calls from legitimate companies can be stopped.
Don’t Answer Unfamiliar Calls
It may be frustrating to continuously get calls from unknown numbers, and then try to determine if they’re being made by people you actually know. But it’s generally wise to avoid answering calls and texts from numbers you don’t recognize. If you miss an important call from your doctor’s office, your child’s school, or a local business, the caller will likely leave you a voicemail so you can get back to them in a timely manner. If you do pick up a call made by a telemarketer, scammer, or robocaller, promptly hang up.
Report Unwanted Calls
You can easily check out who is calling you by using a reverse phone search. Plug in the number and see if others are reporting that the same one is being used in neighbor spoofing. You can even be the first to report the number and help others avoid traps set by scammers. Whether it’s stealing your time, your money, your identity, or your information, neighbor spoofing can be dangerous and invasive. Any measures taken to protect yourself are worth it.
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