Scam Watch: Phishing callers using names, numbers you trust

How you can protect your personal information

SYRACUSE (WSYR-TV) - Constant calls from unknown numbers in recent months has gone beyond an annoyance as the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York tallies more than 100 phishing phone calls in its Scam Tracker. Those are just the calls that get reported.

Each time around, the calls have different names and numbers, but the scam is the same. Scammers are out to get your personal information, according to the BBB.

Patti Falcone, of Syracuse, takes added caution as a past victim of identity theft.

A few years ago, Falcone found herself in a bad situation when someone racked up a thousands dollars in unauthorized charges on one of credit cards.

Out-of-state numbers don't get an answer from Patti, but lately, she says the calls caught her attention.

"I saw names and they were local numbers -- 488 numbers and I thought, wait a minute, is this somebody from church or from somebody that may really want to talk to me?" Falcone shared. "So, I picked up the phone and no, it is a recording."

Falcone has been keeping track of phony calls that show a name or number she knows on her caller ID.

In just two weeks, Falcone logged nine suspicious calls. In some cases, the caller ID showed her the name of a person or place she knows well.

On one occasion, Falcone says she thought a locally owned furniture store she shops at was calling her, but a similar recording started to play out.

Falcone called the actual store and her suspicion was spot on -- no one from the store called her. Now, she worries others may fall for a phishing call from a person or business they trust.

"They said, 'Can we ask you about your account?' And I will not answer that because when you say, 'yes,' to some of these people and they jockey around the tapes and make it sound like you're saying yes to something you're not saying, 'yes,' to," Falcone shared.

Patti did the right thing by not saying, "yes," or engaging anyone on the other end of the call.

The BBB is urging everyone to do the same, and to report any scam calls to the BBB Scam Tracker.

The BBB also warns that if a business or organization you know has never called you before -- there's a good chance they have not changed their routine and the call is a scam. 

Scammers have been known to impersonate police agencies, immigration authorities and the IRS, according to the BBB.

Avoid phishing phone scams

- Hang up and don't call back
- Don't believe caller ID
- Join the Do Not Call Registry
- Check credit card, phone & cable bills carefully

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