Alarming Increase of Scam Calls

Be cautious of telephone calls threatening legal action, demanding fees or requesting information.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released a statement cautioning the public of telephone calls from criminals impersonating DEA agents or other law enforcement personnel threatening arrest and prosecution for supposed violations of federal drug laws or involvement in drug trafficking activities. Scammers threaten legal action if an exorbitant fine is not paid immediately over the phone. Callers instruct victims to pay the “fine” via wire transfer or store gift cards to avoid arrest, prosecution and imprisonment.

Similarly, companies, including Apple, Netflix and PayPal, reported that scammers have manipulated caller IDs to mimic their customer support. Over the years, a spoofing strategy called "neighbor spoofing" has grown as one of the driving factors behind nearly 3 billion spam and telemarketing calls mobile phone owners in the United States receive each month.

"Neighbor spoofing" works by tricking recipients into thinking they are receiving a legitimate phone call. Spoofers display a phone number on the caller ID that is similar to yours. By simply matching their number closely to yours, they increase the likelihood that you will answer the call, and are therefore even more likely to fall for a phone scam.

These scams are intended to solicit personal or financial details from unsuspecting victims. Be aware of these reported spoofing tactics:

  • Receiving calls from a spouse or friend's phone number when they are with you
  • Robocalls received from a phone number similar to your own
  • Calls from your financial institution’s phone number asking for personal information, such as account numbers, passwords, and PINs
  • Caller ID displays '911 Emergency' rather than the actual phone number of the caller

Phone scam tactics are continually changing, but often share many of the following characteristics:

  • Callers use fake names, government agencies and badge numbers
  • Callers use an urgent and aggressive tone
  • Callers refuse to speak or leave a message with anyone other than the person for whom they are calling
  • Callers threaten arrest, prosecution and imprisonment
  • Callers demand money via wire transfer or with untraceable gift cards taken over the phone
  • Callers ask for personal information, such as social security number, account number and date of birth

Protect Yourself!

It is important to remember that government personnel will NEVER contact you by telephone to demand money or any other form of payment. They will NEVER request any personal or sensitive information over the phone. Notification of a legitimate investigation or legal action is made via official letter or in person.

If you receive a call from a person claiming to be a special agent or other law enforcement seeking money, refuse their demands and hang up. Report the threat immediately using the DEA's online form or calling your local law enforcement agency.

If you have any concern that your personal information has been jeopardized, contact the support line for the impersonated company and speak to a representative directly. Call listed numbers using your statements, back of credit cards, or verified websites. Do not call back the number provided to you during the phone call.