Spoofing is a serious type of scam that unfortunately happens all the time! Unsuspecting victims are tricked into confirming or releasing personal information, sending money, or scammed into various fraudulent activities. Spoofing presents challenges because victims are often convinced that the access to, or the release of information is permitted - when in fact it is not! When you are "spoofed" you are tricked by the culprit as they misrepresent themselves to be from a trusted source.
It wasn't too long ago when even the Office of Inspector General's (OIG) hotline was spoofed! According to the OIG, the criminals used spoofing to make the OIG's phone number falsely appear on caller ID's in order to obtain confidential information. Thousands of calls using the spoofed number were made to people across the nation, only a handful of people apparently sent money to the perpetrators.
As part of the OIG's announcement, the following steps were recommended to ensure you are being "Cyber Secure" and protecting yourself from any telephone, e-mail, or internet scams.
Add a Cyber Check-up to Your Own Annual To-Do List!
Your own personal online posts, comments, tags, and followers can create a wealth of personal information that bad actors can use to steal your identity and manipulate you into giving up even more confidential information.
- Check your social media privacy settings to make sure you're sharing information only with friends.
- Adjust privacy settings on your smartwatches or health trackers.
- Check out social sites you visit, including ones where you may have left reviews for restaurants, stores, or other services, and delete any of your PHI (Personally Identifiable Information.)
It is also important not to be fooled by a caller's knowledge of their name and other personal information. Callers may use a variety of tactics, to obtain some initial personal information, including by working for otherwise legitimate marketing centers. It is important to know that OIG and other government agencies will never initiate contact with the public through the hotline to request or confirm personal information.
Protect Yourself from Telephone or Email Scams
No matter how authoritative a caller may sound, do not give or confirm your name or provide any personal information to unknown individuals, including such details as your:
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Credit card or bank account information
- Mother's maiden name
If you are going to release any personal information, it is critical to make sure you know who you are communicating with. Failure to do so can be costly and may result in identity theft.