The Delaware State Police on Aug. 9 issued an advisory in response to a recent phone scam trend involving a “spoofed phone number.”
Police said they had recently been made aware of multiple incidents in which individuals have received phone calls that appear on their caller ID as coming from the Delaware State Police. To further convince the recipient that the caller is an official representative of the Delaware State Police, police said, the victims were advised to look up the phone number where the call was originating from. When the victim researches, the number it does appear to be a working Delaware State Police phone number, they said.
Caller ID spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to a caller ID display to disguise their identity, as well as appearing as an official organization or entity. Spoofing is often used as part of an attempt to trick someone into giving away valuable personal information so that it can be used in fraudulent activity or sold illegally.
During these most recent calls, police said, the aim is to convince the recipient of the call that a family member needs money wired to them due to being injured, for payment of a traffic ticket or for bail.
“The scammers are very convincing and even have the alleged family member in need crying on the phone, further playing on the emotional vulnerability of the victim,” police described.
The majority of the recent calls have been made to out-of-state individuals from multiple states nationwide, police noted.
“The Delaware State Police will never request payment for fines, traffic tickets or bail. All these transactions are conducted by the respective court systems and never over the phone. Electronic payments are also never requested via phone for court matters,” police emphasized.
If someone is calling regarding a family member, they said, do not offer any personal information about oneself or the family member, but immediately attempt to contact the family to verify their status directly. Indicators of scam calls are threats, orders to not hang up and other statements about immediacy, police noted.
The Federal Communications Commissions has provided the following tips to avoid spoofing scams:
• You may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Be extremely careful about responding to any request for personal identifying information.
• Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
• If you answer the phone and the caller — or a recording — asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
• Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes” or “No.”
• Never give out personal information, such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
• If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.
• Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
• If you have a voicemail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.
• Talk to your phone company about call blocking tools they may have and check into apps that you can download to your mobile device to block unwanted calls. Information on available robocall blocking tools is available at fcc.gov/robocalls.
This information was provided through the Federal Communications Commission’s website at https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/spoofing-and-caller-id.
Police said many of these scams are difficult to investigate, and they will target persons of all age groups. The Delaware State Police is asking the public to remember those tips in order to not become a victim of one of these scam artists.
Anyone who suspects they have been a victim of this scam is being advised to contact their local law enforcement agency. Information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or via the internet at