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What is a Spoofing Scam and How Do You Avoid One?

spoofing scams

The convenience of cell phones and digital access to everything is a luxury we enjoy every day. It adds accessibility to every area of our lives, and digital banking is one of them. Here at Leaders, and at most other financial institutions, you can take care of almost any financial need over the phone with a representative in our call center. It saves you the hassle of taking time out of your day to enter a branch.

However, one of the most common types of financial fraud is spoofing scams, which usually occur over the phone or by text or email. In today's digital age, scams and fraudulent activities have evolved to become increasingly sophisticated. We want you to be aware and prepared with how to avoid a spoofing scam so that you can enjoy all the benefits digital banking can offer you. In this blog post, we'll delve into what spoofing scams are, how to uncover a spoofed number, how to prevent someone from spoofing your number, what spoofing texts are, and the steps you can take to protect yourself from falling victim to these scams.


What is a Spoofing Scam?

A spoofing scam is a type of fraudulent activity in which the scammer disguises their identity or contact information to appear as someone else, often a trusted entity. Spoofing can take various forms, including phone number spoofing, text spoofing, email spoofing, and even website spoofing. The primary aim of spoofing scams is to deceive individuals into taking actions that benefit the scammer, such as giving out your personal information, providing financial details, or clicking on malicious links.

What is a Spoofing Text?

A spoofing text, also known as SMS spoofing, is a deceptive technique used by scammers to manipulate the sender information in a text message, making it appear as if it's coming from a different source. This clever tactic is designed to trick recipients into taking harmful actions that benefit the scammer. By disguising the true origin of the message, scammers aim to gain the recipient's trust and convince them to provide personal information, financial details, or click on malicious links.

MicrosoftTeams-image (17)SMS spoofing, seen in the example below, can be particularly dangerous because text messages are often perceived as more trustworthy compared to other forms of communication. Many individuals rely on text messages for important notifications or alerts, which makes them more susceptible to falling victim to these scams. The scammers exploit this trust and the immediate nature of text messages to deceive recipients into taking actions that compromise their security.

Remember, scammers are constantly evolving their tactics, so it's important to stay informed and take proactive measures to safeguard your personal information and financial well-being. By being aware of the dangers of SMS spoofing and practicing caution in your digital interactions, you can outsmart the scammers and maintain a secure digital banking experience.

fraud prevention kit

How Do You Uncover a Spoofed Number?

Spoofing scams are designed to trick you and look legitimate, so it can be difficult to detect a spoofed number, however there are a few signs you can be on the lookout for.

  1. Caller ID inconsistencies: Check for inconsistencies between the displayed caller ID information and the caller's behavior or request. Scammers may use a familiar organization's name to gain trust. If you’re unsure if it is a legitimate company, research the phone number and real information on the company’s website. At Leaders, our financial champions will always call from the same number listed on our website.
  2. Unsolicited calls or messages: Be cautious of unsolicited calls or messages, especially if they request personal or financial information. Legitimate organizations typically do not contact individuals out of the blue for such purposes. If there is no specific reason for the call, text, or email, it might be a scam. 
  3. Verify with the official source: If you receive a call or message from an entity, you suspect might be spoofed, independently verify their contact information through official channels. Do not rely solely on the information provided in the call or message. Although the person might seem trustworthy on the phone call or text message, they might be tricking you, so it’s always a best practice to stop, slow down, and check with the real entity first.


How Do You Stop Someone from Spoofing Your Number?

It’s difficult to completely stop scammers from calling your number and while you can't completely prevent someone from spoofing your number, you can take steps to minimize the risk:

  1. Use Caller ID authentication: Many carriers offer caller ID authentication services, such as STIR/SHAKEN. Enable these features to help verify the authenticity of incoming calls.
  2. Don't share personal information: Be cautious about sharing personal information over the phone or text, especially with unknown callers. Legitimate organizations will not request sensitive data like Social Security numbers or financial account details over the phone.
  3. Refrain from answering unknown numbers: If you don’t recognize the number and you’re not expecting a call from someone, don’t answer the phone. If someone needs something from you, they should leave a voicemail. If you receive a text from an unknown number and do not know what they’re asking for, simply delete the message and block the number. This will help to stop the scammer from contacting you again.
  4. Report suspected scams: If you believe your number is being spoofed, report it to your phone carrier and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They can investigate and take action against scammers.


How Do You Prevent Spoofing?

Preventing spoofing, whether through calls or texts, requires a combination of vigilance and technical measures. The best way to prevent fraud of any kind is to simply stop and think before you take action. Here are some additional tips to help you protect yourself from spoofing scams:

Install a spam filter app: Many smartphones offer spam filter apps that can help identify and block suspected spoofed calls and texts. These apps use advanced algorithms to analyze incoming calls and messages, flagging potential scams or spoofed numbers. By installing and regularly updating a reliable spam filter app, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to spoofing scams.

Avoid clicking on suspicious links: Be cautious when clicking on links received via text messages, especially if you didn't expect the message or if it appears to be from an unfamiliar source. Scammers often use text messages to lure victims into clicking on malicious links that can lead to phishing websites, malware downloads, or other harmful actions. To stay safe, always verify the source of the message and avoid clicking on any suspicious links.

Educate yourself: Stay informed about the latest scams and spoofing tactics. Awareness is a powerful defense against fraudsters. Keep up to date with news and resources that provide information about common scams, new techniques used by scammers, and best practices for protecting yourself. By educating yourself on the latest trends in spoofing scams, you'll be better equipped to recognize and avoid potential threats.

Enable two-factor authentication (2FA): Enable 2FA on your accounts whenever possible to add an extra layer of security. Two-factor authentication requires you to provide two forms of identification before accessing your accounts, typically a password and a unique verification code sent to your mobile device. Even if your phone number is spoofed, enabling 2FA can help prevent unauthorized access to your accounts. It adds an additional step for scammers to overcome, making it more difficult for them to gain control of your accounts.

Prevent Spoofing with Leaders Credit Union

Spoofing scams are a serious threat in today's digital world, but with awareness and precaution, you can reduce the risk of falling victim to them. At Leaders, our Risk Management department helps our members by catching fraud before it happens and helping you recover your loses if you fall for a scam. Even if you're embarrassed because you feel for a spoofing scam, reach out to your financial institution because our job at your credit union or bank is to help protect you, and part of that is protecting your finances.  

At Leaders Credit Union, our members' financial security is our top priority. That's why we've created our Ultimate Fraud Prevention Help Kit, a comprehensive guide that dives deep into everything you need to know to protect yourself from financial fraud.

Report Scams to the FTC

If you were scammed or think you saw a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.