Oh no! I’ve been spoofed!: What to do when your number is used to make robocalls

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Photo courtesy WTHR

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – We all get those calls – your phone cell rings, you see a local number, pick up and BAM! it’s an annoying robocall.

But at least you can hang up and ignore it.

Now, a twist. What happens when YOU “call” dozens of people without ever picking up your phone?

That’s what happened to me this week.

I was in the news car with a colleague, headed to an interview when my phone blew up. I started getting bombarded with calls from numbers I didn’t recognize. Dozens of calls.

I answered the first few calls.and heard, “Hi this is so-and-so, were you trying to call me?” Even as I listened to voice mails, I could hear more calls coming in. Those who left messages said they’d just missed from me and were getting back.

I also started receiving text messages: “Sorry I can’t talk now…I’m on my way…Who is this?”

While I hadn’t called a single person, someone had found a way to use my number and was calling a lot of people and no one I knew, no one in my contact list. But it was my number that showed up on Anthony’s caller ID.

He was one of the people who called me back and got my voicemail.

When I called him he said, “Yeah, I called you back, because…when you see the news calling, you wonder what that’s all about.”

Like many of us, he no longer answers 800 numbers. But when he sees a local number? He said he usually answers. That’s why scammers use “real” numbers to get people to pick up. You may think it’s your doctor, your plumber or someone else whose name doesn’t appear on caller ID.

I also called Bob back, who had also left a voicemail after missing my call. When I told him it wasn’t me, I didn’t have to finish telling him what had happened.

Turns out he too has been spoofed. But the calls he gets?

“I keep getting calls from my number to myself,” he told me. Yep, he has his cell phone in hand and he’s getting calls from it. How does that happen?

“I have no absolutely no clue,” he said.

Telecommunications experts say spoofing is happening more and more. The numbers like mine and Bob’s are usually picked randomly, the scammers hard to track down.

There was nothing I could do to stop the calls, just silence my phone and wait for the calls to die, which they did a couple hours later.

You can try to block telemarketer calls by signing up for the Do Not Call list, but this is different, so what do you do if someone starts using your number?

Here’s a link to guidance from the FCC about what to do about robocalls and spoofing.

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