Spike in 'call spoofing' scams annoys Virginians, raises questions about laws

Experts warn of an increase in scam calls with a specific tactic


ROANOKE, Va. – A certain kind of scam call is going around our area.

It’s called call spoofing, and it's annoying thousands of people in southwest Virginia. It could be coming from anywhere, but the number showing up has your area code and the same next three digits. It’s usually a recording, trying to get your personal information.

Julie Wheeler with the Better Business Bureau said there’s a huge spike in them nationwide.

"This is the latest and greatest way to get someone on the phone," she said.

The number might show up like it’s from a bank or government agency.

"You cannot rely on caller ID. I can't say that enough. You cannot rely on it because it's way too easy to make it say whatever you want it to say," she said.

Wheeler said to never give out personal information over the phone, and to not be afraid to get off the phone with someone, look up a number for their organization and call it yourself.

"Another one that's popular is where your own phone number pops up. And it comes up 'me'. How am I calling me? How am I calling myself? It gets your attention. So what do you do? You answer the phone," she said.

There are free apps you can get, like Hiya, to block potential scam calls. One reason these aren’t dying down yet is the laws haven’t caught up to the trend.

Republican candidate for attorney general John Adams has made fighting this problem a part of his campaign.

“Prosecution and lawsuits are a deterrent. We can definitely get ahead of these phone calls and stop them," Adams said.

Attorney General Mark Herring says his office is working on the issue.

"We want to make sure all Virginians know how to protect themselves and their wallets from these criminals," he said in a statement to 10 News. "We’ve recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for Virginians over the last four years, but we would much rather keep Virginians from being victims in the first place."

Wheeler says U.S. laws may not be able to combat the problem, particularly if the scammer is out of the country.

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