Beware of spoofing


Many people in the Niobrara County area are receiving phone calls from telemarketers portraying to be from the Senior Center. Their caller ID on their phone identifies them as the Senior Center with our phone number, 307-334-2561 or a phone number very similar, 307-340-2561. From conversations from people receiving these calls, “Medic Alert” would benefit that person because they have been falling. Please understand that this is a fraud labeled “Caller ID and Spoofing”. The Niobrara Senior Center has NOT been calling people in the community to sell items to, nor identify the people as falling.

In reporting this to the law enforcement, The Trade Commission, and the State Attorney General office, we have been told that the caller ID feature in your phones may have been manipulated by “spoofers” who masquerade as representatives of banks, creditors, insurance companies, government, and now the Niobrara Senior Center. 

Wyoming Department of Family Services employees are also reporting that citizens are being called by a State affiliated phone number beginning with 307-777-XXXX and when answered are asked personal information such as names and social security numbers. This is a form of “spoofing”, where the scammer makes a phone call and is able to use another phone number to populate the recipient’s caller ID. to look as if it is an official state agency phone number.

Public telephone networks often provide Caller ID information, which includes the caller’s name and number, with each call. However, some technologies (especially in Voice over IP (VoIP) networks) allow callers to forge Caller ID information and present false names and numbers. Gateways between networks that allow such spoofing and other public networks then forward that false information. Since spoofed calls can originate from other countries, the laws in the receiver’s country may not apply to the caller. This limits laws’ effectiveness against the use of spoofed Caller ID information to further a scam.

Wyoming Department of Family Services should only need an individual(s) personal information if they have applied for a specific program(s) with us, such as SNAP. It is unlikely that a DFS representative would not schedule a call with a client. If you are receiving an unscheduled phone call and you are being asked for your personal information please do not give any information out. It is advised to call your caseworker immediately to report the event.

After many concerns today regarding suspicious phone calls being made to citizen’s, claiming to be the Department of Family Services and requesting personal information, Department of Family Services is reminding residents to be cautious when giving out personal information over the phone.

What should you do if you think you are being spoofed or any other telemarketing type fraud?  According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), you may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Be careful about responding to any request for personal identifying information.

-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 suspicious.

-If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the phone number on tour account statement, in the phone book or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request.

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

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

Is spoofing illegal? Under the Truth in Caller ID Act, FCC rules prohibit any person or entity from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value. If no harm is intended or caused, spoofing is not illegal. Anyone who is illegally spoofing can face penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation.  In some cases, spoofing can be permitted by the courts for people who have legitimate reasons to hide their information, such as law enforcement agencies working on cases, victims of domestic abuse or doctors who wish to discuss private medical matters.

Is blocking a phone number the same thing as spoofing? Spoofing is not the same thing as blocking a phone number. FCC rules require telephone companies to make phone number blocking available and free for all calls between states (each state makes its own rules about calls that stay within the state). If you receive a phone call from an “unknown number,” that phone number has been blocked, but not necessarily spoofed. Also, you can legally block the transmission of your phone number when you make calls, so your number will appear as “unknown.”

What are the FCC rules regarding caller ID for telemarketers? FCC rules specifically require that a telemarketer:

-Transmit or display its telephone number or the telephone number on whose behalf the call is being made, and if possible, its name or the name of the company for which it is selling products or services.

-Display a telephone number you can call during regular business hours to ask to no longer be called. This rule applies even to companies that already have an established business relationship with you.

How do I report suspected spoofing?

If you receive a call and you suspect caller ID information has been falsified, or you think the rules for protecting the privacy of your telephone number have been violated, you can file a complaint with the FCC. There are multiple options for filing a complaint with FCC:

-File a complaint online at https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov

-By phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322); TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322); ASL: 1-844-432-2275

-By mail (please include your name, address, contact information and as much detail about your complaint as possible):

Federal Communications Commission

Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division

445 12th street, S.W.

Washington DC 20554

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