Consumers

Scam Alert: 911 Spoofing

By May 8, 2018 No Comments

Hello, 9-1-1? We’d like to report a crime. Scammers are spoofing the emergency number in hopes they can scare you into sharing personal information.

Imagine getting a call and the ID says 911. What would you do? We are taught from a young age that 911 is supposed to help us, so how do you know if the call is safe to answer?

This particular scam isn’t very complex, but it is pretty scary. Here’s how it works: People receive a spoofed call from “911.” When they answer, they are told a relative has been in a car crash. Between the false number and startling news, scammers are hoping you’ll be shaken enough to offer up your personal information.

If you’re wondering whether or not a call from 911 could be legit, we can assure you – it’s not. When you dial 9-1-1, the call will sometimes go through dedicated lines and switches intended to provide additional security from outages and congestion. However, they’re still just regular phone lines. Calls are routed to the Public Safety Answering Point nearest to where they originated. If you receive a call from a 911 call center, it will show up as a seven-digit administrative phone number, or in some cases will display restricted or blocked. So not only is it impossible to get a call from 911, they have no reason to call you unless you called them in the first place. If you get a call from the number, don’t give out any personal info – better yet, don’t answer at all. You can call your local police department and inquire if it was a real call or not; just google the non-emergency number for your area.

Last year, the FCC gave phone companies greater authority to block these types of calls. Your service provider can now block additional calls that are probably spams, such as numbers that start with a 911 area code. While this will help lessen the possibility of being targeted, it’s still better to be safe than sorry. Using a call block app like PrivacyStar can block known scams from your phone. If you believe you have been a victim of this scam, you should contact your local police and the FCC immediately.