July 24, 2024

Steer Clear of Spoofing Scams: Guidance to Avoid Becoming a Victim

In today’s ever-connecting digital world, scams such as spoofing and phishing are increasingly common. These scams involve the fraudulent procurement of personal and monetary details to swindle innocent individuals. The methods applied by fraudsters vary widely, but by following certain precautions, residents of Lowndes County can lower their chance of falling prey to these cons, says local law enforcement officials.

Lowndes County Sheriff’s Patrol Commander Lt. Nick Cognasi, with 15 years of experience in the force, discloses that scams have consistently been a staple of criminal activity. They have evolved to take on many forms, whether through email, phone, or text messages.

According to the [Federal Bureau of Investigations *(FBI)*](https://www.fbi.gov/how-we-can-help-you/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/spoofing-and-phishing), spoofing is a cybercrime where the perpetrator camouflages themselves online to trick potential victims into thinking they are interacting with a trustworthy source. This manipulation then encourages the victims to disclose personal and financial information.

Together with Lt. Cognasi and the Federal Communications Commission *(FCC)*, we share the necessary precautions individuals can take to avoid becoming a spoofing scam victim.

1. Protect your personal information.

FCC’s advice is to refrain from divulging personal or identification details such as account numbers, social security numbers, or passwords. Authentic businesses and government agencies do not request such sensitive information, nor do they demand payment through gift cards or prepaid cards. This is a red flag and indicates that the person contacting you is potentially a hacker or a cyber fraudster.

2. Be wary of unfamiliar calls, texts, or website links.

One of the best ways to defend against spoofing scams is to refrain from interacting with the scam operators or their links. FCC advises not to attend to calls from unfamiliar numbers and to immediately disconnect if such a call is inadvertently answered.

3. Confirm the authenticity of the individual or organization asking for your information.

Frequently, spoofing scams involve the distortion of the caller ID, making it seem like the call is coming from a trusted, local number. If uncertain about a call, contact the company or government organization via their official website or the number listed in authoritative directories.

Cognasi emphasizes that individuals should not hesitate when it comes to verifying the identity of the person they are interacting with over the phone. A simple phone call to the institution can confirm their customer service team’s authenticity and if any of their members reached out.

Should you suspect that you’ve become a victim of a scam, or you’ve received potentially fraudulent correspondence, report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission *(FTC)* at [www.reportfraud.ftc.gov](http://www.reportfraud.ftc.gov) or call 877-382-4357. Additionally, they also recommend filing a complaint with the local police or sheriff’s department.

Frequently Asked Questions

What constitutes a spoofing scam?

Spoofing scams occur when a cybercriminal disguises oneself on the internet to trick potential victims into thinking they are a reliable source. This deception often leads to the victims divulging their personal and financial information.

How can I protect myself from spoofing scams?

To protect yourself from spoofing scams, refrain from disclosing personal information, ignore calls or texts from unknown numbers, and always verify the identity of the person or entity requesting your details.

What should I do if I suspect I have fallen victim to a spoofing scam?

If you believe you’ve been scammed, report the event to the Federal Trade Commission at [www.reportfraud.ftc.gov](http://www.reportfraud.ftc.gov) or by calling 877-382-4357. Filing a complaint with the local law enforcement agency is also recommended.