ROCKINGHAM — When Kim Hutchinson looked down at her phone for an incoming call and saw her own number on the screen, she knew something was fishy.
When she answered, Hutchinson said there was an automated voice on the other end saying her phone had been tagged for “security reasons” and that the company, AT&T, needed the last four digits of her social security number and code to her phone.
Hutchinson said she hung up immediately, called AT&T and found out it was a scam, adding the company is putting scam blockers on her phones.
Detective Chris Lampley with the Hamlet Police Department said he also received a call from his own cellphone number, but he didn’t answer it and no voicemail message was left. Lampley is also an AT&T customer.
As this story was being written, Lucy Newman, who designs the Daily Journal’s pages in Lumberton, received a similar robo-call from her own phone number saying her AT&T account was past due.
Newman said she hasn’t had an account with AT&T in more than 25 years.
An AT&T community forum shows the spoofing problem has been going on since at least 2014.
“If any company calls you and asks for your personal information, that is a red flag,” Ann Elsas, a regional spokeswoman, said in an email Thursday evening. “One of our tips on our new Cyber Aware website is never give such information to someone who calls you. Call the company at the number found on your bill. You can read more helpful tips for all consumers at www.att.com/cyberaware.”
Spoofing is when would-be scammers manipulate caller ID to disguise their identity.
In the past four years, scammers have targeted Richmond County residents (and businesses) purporting to be from the Rockingham Police Department, IRS, and FirstHealth.
Late last year, the N.C. Attorney General’s Office offerd several tips to prevent from becoming a spoofing victim:
• Always remember a people on the phone may not be who they say they are. If you’re concerned, hang up and call them back on the number you have for them.
• Do not answer any questions about your personal health issues.
• Do not provide any information about your personal finances.
• Do not give out your social security number or your date of birth.
“If you have provided any of the above information, it would be a good idea to contact the credit reporting agencies to place a freeze on your credit report,” said Laura Brewer, a spokeswoman with the A.G.’s office. “We always encourage consumers to obtain a copy of their credit report yearly to review the information listed and make sure there are no errors in your credit file.”
Possible scams can be reported to the A.G.’s office by calling 1-877-5-NOSCAM or by filing an online complaint at ncdoj.gov/complaint.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 or [email protected]