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Better Business Bureau Northwest & Pacific has received reports of robocalls coming from numbers similar to the receiver. Because the number appears to be local we can’t help but assume the call is important. But it often turns out to be another prerecorded robocall.

This is a new trick for scammers to try and get consumers to answer their phones. Con artists and robocallers are now using technology to modify their phone number with the same area code and first three digits as your own phone number to appear on your caller ID. This is called “neighbor spoofing.” In other cases, the number will display as the same number of a nearby doctor’s office, grocery store or other local business or person living in the area.

These calls all have the same goal; to get you to pick up the phone. Neighbor spoofing is especially tricky because scammers want you to think it’s someone in your community calling.

According to the National Do Not Call Registry Data Book for Fiscal Year 2017, robocalls were the number one call type in 2017 with over 4 million complaints. Although it’s difficult to prevent robocalls completely, there are tips consumers can follow to help them avoid this scheme.

BBB offers these tips to help identify and avoid neighbor spoofing phone calls:

  • Consumers should avoid answering calls from numbers they do not recognize. Legitimate contacts will leave a message and, even if a scammer leaves a message, this will give consumers time to think about what is being asked of them.
  • Avoid pressing any numbers on the keypad. Consumers should be cautious of automated messages asking them to “Press 9” to be taken off of a call list. In the case of scam calls, this simply doesn’t work. Pressing a number on the keypad is a way to alert the caller that they have reached an active number.
  • Just hang up. It is imperative that consumers are aware that scammers are calling and impersonating local businesses, organizations, and charities. The best thing one can do to prevent from falling victim is to hang up, find the appropriate phone number and call them directly to speak to a representative. Don’t engage scammers.
  • Join the Do Not Call Registry. This can be done at DoNotCall.gov. Although this won’t stop scammers, consumers will receive fewer calls, making it easier to spot the fraudulent ones.
  • Report the number. Write down the phone number of those callers violating the Do Not Call Registry and file a scam report with the BBB’s Scam Tracker and on the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call List.

If you receive a robocall, hang up and file a complaint with the FTC, National Do Not Call Registry and report it to BBB Scam Tracker.

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