Scammers tricking caller IDs in Boyle County
Published 8:20 am Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Scammers have apparently begun using a new trick to get people to answer their phones in Boyle County: They make it appear as though you’re getting a call from a trusted business or organization.
Ephraim McDowell Health and Centre College have both reported they are getting complaints from people who receive phone calls identified as from the hospital or college, but on the other end is someone trying to sell them something or trick them.
“Many residents in the area have notified Ephraim McDowell Health that they have been getting phone calls that are represented as being from Ephraim McDowell trying to help them get credit cards, or asking for personal financial information, or other questionable topics,” according to a news release from the hospital. “Ephraim McDowell did not make these calls. We encourage folks not to provide any personal information to these callers.”
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“This is apparently becoming somewhat commonplace,” said Michael Strysick, a spokesperson for Centre College. “… People in town were calling us and saying, ‘I just want you to know someone is masquerading as Centre College’ … it ends up just being a sales call, kind of a robo-call on ‘we can offer you a loan or we can offer you a credit card.'”
Strysick said the way he understands it, the scammers find phone numbers that aren’t currently in use, but are still reserved by a telephone provider such as AT&T for a specific organization such as Centre. Then they make it appear as though their calls are coming from those unused numbers, which causes many caller IDs to display “Centre College” or whichever business’ identity is being used.
“We’ve gotten probably 10, 12, 15 calls from people in town,” Strysick said. “It may be that it’s happening to a lot more people and they just haven’t taken the time to call us up and let us know.”
One person who has taken the time to call Centre is Agnes Greenwood. The Danville resident said she gets too many scam phone calls to count — three on Friday alone.
“It goes from trying to get you to go on a cruise to ‘your warranty is expiring,’ back braces — medical people will say ‘we have a back brace you ordered’ but of course I don’t order these things. I’ve started recently just pressing to block the caller,” she said. “It’s very irritating, especially when you have sickness in the family. My husband is ill and it’s very aggravating.”
Strysick said Centre has told AT&T, the college’s telephone provider, about the problem, but so far there doesn’t appear to be a solution available.
“They said, ‘there’s really nothing we can do,'” Strysick said. “… We’re being told by AT&T that they don’t really have any control over this. I guess I just wonder who does. I think Verizon or any of the other service providers would probably say the same thing. So it seems as if these scammers have found some way to kind of exploit a loophole and are just getting away with it. And I think it’s driving a lot of people crazy.”
AT&T provided The Advocate-Messenger with a statement, noting that “caller ID spoofing involves sending false or misleading information to deceive the receiving party and/or hide the caller’s true identity and/or call origination. In some cases, the caller ID may even display the receiving party’s own number or a number very similar …”
“Do not give out personal information in response to an incoming call. Instead, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book or on the company’s or government agency’s website to find out if the entity that supposedly called you actually needs the requested information from you.”
AT&T recommended filing complaints about phone calls with fake caller ID information with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.ic3.gov.
Ephraim McDowell Health stated in its news release that it “may call patients to conduct satisfaction surveys or to follow up on a patient’s care and provide further information regard their care at home, but will never call asking for private information or trying to sell a product.”
Greenwood said she hopes “somebody could come up with a solution.” But until they do, she’s come up with her own way of getting back at the scammers.
“They want to sell cruises. One time a couple of weeks ago, this call came in and was wanting to sell this cruise. I said, ‘ma’am, I’m from the hills and hollers of Kentucky and I wouldn’t know what to do on a cruise,'” she said, added a southern drawl to her voice. “And I just kept talking and kept talking goofy — she never called back.”
SO YOU KNOW
If you receive an unwanted phone call and would like to report it to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), you may do so by filling out the short form available online at bit.ly/FCCPhoneComplaint.
You can file complaints about phone calls with fake caller ID data at www.ic3.gov.
More information about protecting yourself, blocking calls and combating scams is available at fcc.gov/unwanted-calls.