“Neighbor Spoofing” Targets Consumers—How to Protect Yourself

While you may answer such calls expecting to speak with a local business, scammers frequently attempt to steal personal information.

TCU wants to make its members aware of a growing scam targeting consumers called “neighbor spoofing,” in which fraudulent callers hijack phone numbers that would be familiar to you — for example, a neighbor, a doctor’s office, a pharmacy or a financial institution — to lure people to answer their phones.

Across Indiana and Michigan, people have reported receiving calls that appear to be from their financial institution with the caller asking for their PIN, password or other identifying information over the phone. TCU personnel will never ask for your PIN or online banking password over the phone and such information should never be provided to anyone.

“If you answer a call of this nature, hang up the phone immediately and avoid giving any personal information,” TCU’s Assistant Vice President of Security Dominic Zultanski said. “Scammers have the capacity to hijack a phone number so that a call appears to be coming from a trusted number, but we want to emphasize that TCU representatives will never call and ask for information over the phone that could compromise your account security.”

Consumers Union, the advocacy division for Consumer Reports, is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to require phone companies to implement caller ID authentication technology. At the present time, however, phone service providers do not have the means to prevent scammers from spoofing phone numbers.

Consumers Union is working with the FCC to investigate fraudulent callers and prevent future incidents. The FCC encourages people to file complaints about neighbor spoofing.

TCU invites members to review our Identity Theft Checklist found here.