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Ask the Chief: When spoofers call, hang up immediately

Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman

"Ask The Chief" allows readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs and the department in general.

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Q: What is telephone spoofing?

A: I am so glad you asked this question as my family has also experienced spoofing and it is becoming quite common.

Caller ID "spoofing" occurs when callers deliberately falsify the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Spoofing is often used as part of an attempt to trick someone into giving away valuable personal information so it can be used in fraudulent activity or sold illegally. The phone hacker is masquerading as someone else by falsifying his identity.

One of our most recent incidents, the spoofer used the Red Wing Police Department phone number to display on the receivers caller ID, attempting to gain personal information. Fortunately the caller did not provide any personal information and hung up the phone.

If you wish to check and see if the call is legitimate, hang up and call the business/location back on a phone number that you have in your records and know to be accurate for that business. Technology and spoofing apps make it difficult to know if the number on your caller ID is legitimate, be cautious.

So now you know what it is but how do you protect and prevent it from happening?

There is no miracle remedy to stop this, but you can do a few things to limit the occurrence.

1. File a complaint with the FCC. The phone number is 1-888-225-5322 or paste the following address into your browser

2. Hang up! If you do not know this person or business just hang up! Spoofers/hackers can be very convincing, don't give them the time, hang up.

3. Never give out your personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.

4. Register your number on the Do Not Call list, which protects both landline and wireless phone numbers: Download this FREE guide for additional information