Even public safety officials are being used as a front for scam artists. Scammers are spoofing the emergency number 911 in hopes they can scare you into sharing personal information. We are taught 911 is there to help us, which is why the scam works.
Here’s the scenario:
Hello, 9-1-1? We’d like to report a crime. The call and the ID state: 911.
When they answer, they are told a relative has been in a car crash. Between the false number and startling news, scammers are hoping you’ll be shaken enough to offer up your personal information.
If you’re wondering whether or not a call from 911 could be legit, it’s not. When you dial 9-1-1, the call will sometimes go through dedicated lines and switches intended to provide additional security from outages and congestion. However, they’re still just regular phone lines. Calls are routed to the Public Safety Answering Point nearest to where they originated.
If you receive a call from a 911 call center, it will show up as a seven-digit administrative phone number, or in some cases will display restricted or blocked. So not only is it impossible to get a call from 911, they have no reason to call you unless you called them in the first place. If you get a call from the number, don’t give out any personal information or don’t answer at all. You can call your local police department and ask if it was a real call or not; just google the non-emergency number for your area.
Last year, the FCC gave TDS greater authority to block these types of calls, yet these scammers figure out ways to get around the system. Using a call block app like PrivacyStar can block known scams from your phone. If you believe you have been a victim of this scam, you should contact your local police, the FCC and TDS immediately.
Remember, it is important to never give out your social security number, credit card or insurance information to someone who has called you. Unless you’ve initiated the call, do not provide personal information over the phone or via e-mail.
This year, the scam has been reported in Michigan, New York and Georgia.