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Scam Alert

Caller ID Scams on the Rise

Fraudulent calls threaten your money and your identity

In the past, scammers commonly spoofed the toll-free 800 numbers of national banks. Now, they're using better bait: more familiar and believable local area codes and phone numbers, which help them masquerade themselves as the branch around the corner.

The Pindrop report estimates that the typical scammer uses 200 numbers, depending on who is being called. One gang employed more than 3,000. Spoofed banks included 30 of the nation's 50 largest, and each of the top five.

The five busiest vishing waters were New York; Washington, D.C.; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle. The next five were Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston and Kent, Wash., a Seattle suburb.

But no matter where you live, be aware that you can't rely on your caller ID. And if your bank is really calling you, it will already have your account and PIN numbers. So provide no info to callers and don't reply to text messages. If you're told there's a problem with your account, look up the bank's number yourself and call to verify.

If you already fell for this ruse, immediately notify your bank to change your account numbers. Within the next two to six weeks, check your credit report for free at Annualcreditreport.com to determine if fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name.

Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.

Also of interest: "Vishing" for your bank info.

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