ESCANABA, Mich. (WLUC) The dreaded phone call from a number you don’t recognize… That can be the tell-tale sign of a phone scammer. However, scammers are now getting smarter and calling from local numbers you may think you recognize.
“I think twice I’ve had calls that said they were from Bergland, and once from Amasa,” said Don Ryan, who has received these scam calls. “Obviously these calls aren’t coming from Bergland or Amasa, so this must be a new trick where they can somehow make it look like someone is calling from here in the UP, even though they’re definitely not.”
According to the Delta County Sheriff’s office, the scammers have sophisticated software that allows them to spoof whatever number or name they want on the caller ID. Which explains why some people have received scams from local numbers, and even numbers posing as the IRS or other government agencies. Thankfully, there’s an easy way to find out if the number is fake.
“What you can do is just tell the scammer, ‘I need to hang up and call you back’ and then dial the number they call you on back immediately, or put them on hold and call the number from another phone,” said Lieutenant Dan Johnson, Delta County Sheriff’s Office Detective. “Then you’ll see that it’s a scam when you try to call back and it’s not a real number. If the caller doesn’t use the spoofing software, then you can instead search that number on the internet, and typically you’ll see a whole list of other scams that have been reported from that number.”
Though anyone of any age can become a victim of one of these scams, police say that the elderly community is often the highest at risk.
“Your parents, and grandparents, let them know that this is a common occurrence and make them aware of different scenarios that people may be calling them with asking them for money,” said Lt. Johnson. “Make sure they know not to give out any money or personal information over the phone until they verify who the caller is.”
Detective Johnson encourages those who have become a victim of a scam to report the incident to their local police department, not the Michigan State Police. Though many are often embarrassed of money they lost and having been scammed, the money trail from your scam can actually offer a chance to catch the criminals.
To avoid being called by scammers and telemarketers, you can also join the National Do Not Call List.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of one of these scams, you can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. For a link to do so, visit our related links section on the side of this article.