Don’t answer that call from your own phone number

Rachel was busy at work, with her cell phone on her desk. Looking out the window, she wished she was able to go for a walk in the sun.

A call arrives on her cell phone, oddly, from her own cell phone number.

She’s aware of robocallers and avoids picking up calls from unknown numbers, but this was different: it was her own number calling.

Curiously, she reaches over and answers the call.

A voice on the other end says,

“Hello Rachel, this is AT&T. We’re encountering a service issue on your number and need to update to keep your number working. To verify this is actually you, please reply with your account number and PIN.”

Rachel is conflicted – this all sounds valid, they had her name, after all. She asks, “Is this really AT&T?”

There is noise in the background of the call – it sounds like a large call center.

Yes, Rachel, this is your provider, AT&T.”

Rachel provides her account number and PIN at this point, then asks how she will know if her account will remain active.

Too bad she couldn’t even finish her sentence.

The call is disconnected.

That was weird,” she thinks.

She then Googles for AT&T’s customer support contact number. A representative, in a quiet environment, answers.

Rachel tells the representative her story.

The representative says:

“Oh no, that was definitely not us. In fact, I see a new user was added to your account a few moments ago. The name of the new user is “XLDFDFDNIDKFE”. Does that sound familiar at all?”

Rachel, freaking out now, says, “No, clearly I have no one with a name that is a jumble of letters. I did not authorize this. Can you please remove this user?

The representative removes the user and puts a freeze on her account.

According to the FCC, technology makes it easy for scammers to fake or “spoof” caller ID information. They can make it look like they’re calling from a different place or phone number. Even your number. Scammers use this trick as a way to get around call-blocking and hide from law enforcement.

Scammers pretend to be anything from your bank to the IRS. These types of calls are surging in volume.

These calls from your own number are illegal. Don’t pick up — or press buttons to be taken off the call list or to talk to a live person. That just leads to more calls. It’s best to ignore them, and move on with your day. Maybe go see a movie or get ice cream with a friend instead.

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