Scammers Can Now Use Fake Caller ID Number

New phishing scam uses fake caller ID numbers and new bomb scare extortion scam: Internet ScamBusters #250

Most people don’t know how easy it is for scammers to fake the caller ID phone number displayed when you receive a call. Today we focus on this fake caller ID scam, as well as alert you to a new bomb scare extortion scam.

Scammers Can Now Use Fake Caller ID Numbers

In a new phishing scam, con artists are using phony caller ID numbers to solicit personal information and money. Thanks to the phony caller IDs, the “spoofers” are able to convince victims that they’re receiving a call from a bank or credit card company — and use this to acquire sensitive personal and financial information, or even money, from their victims.

The “beauty” of this scam is that few people would ever think that the names and phone numbers appearing on their caller ID screens were not genuine.

What this means is that scammers are already using phony caller IDs and are posing as representatives of banks, credit card companies and government agencies. The problem has reached the point where Senator Bill Nelson from Florida is sponsoring legislation to ban the transmission of false caller ID numbers. “A similar bill has already sailed through the house,” reports

Unfortunately, ANYONE with Internet access and a few dollars can find a number of legal online services that supply fake caller ID numbers.

Here at, just a few minutes of research revealed several services that tout the “benefits” of caller ID spoofing, including:

  • Maintaining the privacy of your caller ID number.
  • Changing your voice to sound like a male or female.
  • Fooling friends and business associates (or business competitors).

One firm claims its technology is suited to individuals in certain law-enforcement-related professions, while another advertises its services as inexpensive, easy to use, and great for “business or fun.”

Here are three tips that can help you avoid being scammed:

  1. Don’t assume that the information displayed on your phone, regarding who the caller is, is accurate — now you know it can easily be spoofed.
  2. Never give out personal or financial information over the phone unless you know EXACTLY whom you’re dealing with.
  3. If you have doubts about who’s on the phone, call back the main number at your bank or credit card company rather than talking to the person who calls you.

The moral of the story is that — at least for now — you can’t trust caller ID to tell “the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

After all, scammers are always finding new ways to con people. However, as long as you stay informed, you can remain one step ahead of the scammers. And that’s why we publish ScamBusters — to help you know about scams in advance so you can protect yourself.

For more information on phishing, visit Phishing Scams: How You Can Protect Yourself.

Bomb Scare Scammers Extort Money from Stores

Since late August, more than 26 grocery stores, discount retailers and banks in 17 states have been targeted by cell phone scammers threatening to detonate bombs on their premises unless money was wired to a specific account.

To date, at least $13,000 has been extorted from victims, including $10,000 from a Wal-Mart in Newport, RI, but no bombs have been found, reports

In one incident, a caller also ordered shoppers and employees in a Kansas store to remove their clothes, which some did, believing the caller was observing them.

The caller made “it seem very realistic that they’re right in the building or right outside, almost like they have a visual,” said one law enforcement official.

Authorities believe the scammer(s) may have had “visual access” to some stores, but could have gained that access by hacking into the security systems.

Although the FBI believes that all of the incidents so far have been hoaxes, it’s issued the following bomb scare guidelines to potential victims:

  1. Ask the caller questions such as when the bomb will explode, where it’s located, what it looks like, what kind of bomb it is, what will cause it to explode, and why it was planted. You may not get answers — but you might.
  2. Document the EXACT wording of the threat and the caller’s response to questions.
  3. Assess the caller’s apparent gender, race and age.
  4. Note whether the caller is calm, angry, excited, has an accent, etc.
  5. Listen for background sounds — e.g., street noises, static on the line, etc.
  6. Is the person well spoken, incoherent, taped or irrational?
  7. If caller ID is available, write down the telephone number.
  8. If you’re able to record phone calls, maintain them for police.

Action: If you receive such a phone threat, we recommend that you ask an employee or customer to immediately phone the local police and the FBI.

To learn about another extortion scam, visit Hitman Emails: Scams or Urban Legends?

Time to conclude for today — stay safe and have a great week!