What is Caller ID Spoofing?

Caller ID Spoofing is when a caller uses technology to hide the actual phone number they are calling from and display another phone number in the Caller ID.

You could receive a call from what appears to be a bank or the IRS. This method has become popular with criminals because it hides their true identity and allows them to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.

How is Caller ID Spoofing Dangerous?

The technology behind spoofing makes the calls or texts nearly untraceable. You won’t reach the criminal by calling the number back. Instead you will reach the person or business that actually owns the phone number or it could be an inactive number.

Many of these callers originate from international locations (especially third world countries), where they have no regard for our laws. They can make more money by scamming an innocent person by posing as a bank, the IRS, or the police than they could ever make in their country.

If you accidentally provide your bank account or personal information, the scammer has access to your identity or your bank accounts. With this information, they can withdraw money out of your bank account or apply for loans and credit cards using your identity.

Examples of Spoofing Cases in our Area

Example 1:

John Smith received a call on his cell phone that appeared to come from his bank. The person identified herself as Cindy from the Fraud Department at his bank and told John there had been a fraud attempt on John’s checking account.

Cindy (actually a scammer) asked John if he made a purchase at Walmart for $608.25. John said that he did not make that purchase. Cindy asked John to verify his online banking username and John gave it to her.

Cindy told John that she was going to send a one-time verification PIN to his cell phone so she could verify his identity.

Cindy used John’s online banking username to log in to his online banking system and clicked on “Forgot Username or Password” to generate a text message from the bank’s real phone number with verification code. When John received the text message with the verification number, he read it back to Cindy over the phone, which allowed the scammer to access his account. Once Cindy could access John’s account through online banking, she could see and read back his actual bank transactions, making it appear like she was from his bank.

At this point, Cindy could set up payments and take money out of John’s account.

Example 2:

Sally receives a text message from an unknown number that says

BANK OF TENNESSEE ALERT.
DID YOU MAKE A RECENT PURCHASE OF $352.86? 
REPLY “Y” FOR YES AND “N” FOR NO

Sally, concerned about potential fraud on her account, immediately replied “N” to the text message thinking she was responding to her bank. In reality, she was responding to a scammer, not her bank.

Once the scammer received a text message response from Sally, they called her pretending to be with her bank. Chad, the scammer, asked her to verify her address, birthday and debit card number. Once he had that information, Chad told Sally that he was deactivating her current debit card and ordering her a new one. He asked Sally to tell him her debit card PIN so he could assign the same number to her new one.

At this point, Chad has all the information he needs to make purchases and cash advances on Sally’s debit card.

Bank of Tennessee Customers Should Know

When you call Bank of Tennessee, we may use some personal information to verify your identity such as:

  • The last 4 digits of your SSN (never the entire number)
  • Your physical address
  • Your birthday

Bank of Tennessee will never call you and ask for:

  • Your online banking user name or password
  • Your debit card number
  • Your PIN

What You Should Do

  • If you ever receive a call from Bank of Tennessee (or any organization) and are unsure if the call is legitimate, hang up and call the company back directly.
  • If you do not remember signing up for text message alerts with Bank of Tennessee, do not respond to any text messages you receive on the bank’s behalf.
  • If you receive a suspicious text message or phone call from Bank of Tennessee, please contact us at 866.378.9500 Monday – Friday 8am to 5pm EST.
  • Review your bank statements and online banking regularly and notify us immediately of any suspicious or fraudulent activity.

More Information

Federal Communications Commission
https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/spoofing-and-caller-id

Federal Trade Commission
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/caller-id-spoofing-infographic