Telephone Scams Have Gotten Sneakier, How to Be One Step Ahead

Beware of calls from local phone numbers.

Scam artists are no longer relying on calling from 1–800 numbers to capture their victims.

In the past, most calls from scammers came from 1–800 numbers. With call display now very common, most people would avoid answering these unknown callers. Unfortunately, these fraudsters have now found a way around this problem.

Illegitimate telemarketers are now using local phone numbers to contact you, be vigilant so you don’t fall prey to this scam.

I recently received a phone call which stated it was coming from a place called Azerbaijan. Have you ever heard of it? Ya, me neither. Suffice to say unless it was one of my long, long-lost relatives, I was pretty sure that caller was up to no good. But I found myself thinking, ‘hmm, that's strange.’

Of course, it was certainly not strange that I was receiving an unsolicited phone call because I get those all the time. The weird part was that it was coming from such an obvious ‘do not answer’ phone number. It so happened that my suspicions were right. If it had been relatives in the former Soviet Republic who had spent the time to hunt me down, I’m pretty sure they would have left a message.

In the past six months, telephone scammers have gotten increasingly sneaky. Maybe they are trying to capitalize on the fact that more people are home during the pandemic and answering their phones, or they have just caught on that no one answers calls from Azerbaijan.

In the month of February alone, I received exactly ten illegitimate phone calls. Nine of these calls came from local phone numbers. And you already know where the tenth came from.

Each time I answered, I was greeted by a fishy robotic voice greeting me ‘Hello. I’m calling from the office of the insert reputable establishment here.’

Not only are they local numbers, but they are so specific as to match the first six digits of my own phone number. For example, my phone number is 123-550-XXXX. The phone numbers that I receive are coming from 123-550-XXXX. When I consulted my husband on this, who has a 123–307-XXXX number, he stated that all of his come from 123–307-XXXX numbers. Interesting.

My husband works in sales, therefore he receives a lot of phone calls from local unknown numbers. He has answered a lot of these scam calls. It doesn’t happen very often, but one day he missed a call. Selecting the number he returned the call only to find an innocent lady on the other end, who had not called him, nor had any idea what he was talking about.

Something similar has also happened to me. I received a call and answered expecting my very persistent robotic friend. I was surprised to hear what I picture to be the sweetest, little, old, grey-haired grandpa calling. He began with ‘I just missed a call from this number.’ Of course, I had not called him, but somehow my phone number is now aiding and abetting criminals.

Photo by Jenna Anderson on Unsplash

I spent the next few minutes explaining my realizations about scam calls to my sweet new friend. Several times through our conversation her interjected with an ‘oh dear,’ or a ‘my goodness.’ I sincerely hope that explaining what was happening saves him from being taken advantage of.

Blocking these incoming numbers is of no use. I have done that several times. But every call seems to come from a new number.

This has to stop and I hate the idea that my phone number is helping these thieves.

So I did some digging. According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, this is called Caller ID Spoofing. This Government of Canada commission states that in order to misrepresent themselves, illegitimate telemarketers can alter the call display number. As I had noted, they will typically copy the first 6 numbers of the phone number they are calling.

The information also states that you can report caller ID spoofing. Perfect! I read on to discover that to do this you need the name and phone number of the telemarketer.. well, wait a minute. Didn’t we just sort out the fact that they can change their displayed number to anything they want?! So that avenue is useless.

At best, it is advised that people register for the National Do Not Call List to prevent being called. I registered my number and so far I have not received another call. If I do, I will be sure to stay on the line and ask Mr. Roboto for his name and true phone number.

Here are the Government of Canada’s common-sense tips to preventing being taken advantage of over the phone:

  • hang up if you hear a robotic voice
  • if you are unsure, do not answer, these numbers do not leave messages
  • never give out any personal information
  • if it is a person stating they are from a reputable establishment ask for a call back number to verify

Though these calls are very annoying if you are on alert you should have no problem keeping your funds where they belong!

Editor of The Motherload. Top Writer in Parenting. Her BSc. and RRT designations led to a fulfilling NICU career prior to becoming a mother.

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