Stenehjem: State seeing an increase in telephone scams using 'spoofing'

Nov 27, 2017

Credit ND Attorney General's office

There’s been an uptick in the number of scam calls.

This time, the scammers are “spoofing” non-working North Dakota phone numbers.

You see a number pop up on your caller ID with a “701” area code. You answer – and find it’s a robo-call or a live person offering automobile warranties, help with student loans, and the like.

But the numbers aren’t real.

"A lot of people think, 'It's North Dakota, and it must be from someone I know," said North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. "Very often, those numbers are not really North Dakota numbers. They've been hijacked, and they're fake."

Stenehjem said it’s a way for scammers to get around “do not call” lists.

Stenehjem said he and other state attorneys general urged the Federal Communications Commission to change its rules, so telephone companies can use technology to stop the spoof numbers from being put through to telephone customers.

"Up until now, the telephone companies maintained they're like the Post Office -- they're obligated to complete every phone call that comes through, and not sort through and decide which ones are scams," Stenehjem said.

Stenehjem said the Federal Communications Commission agreed to change its rules.

"There are apps you can get, especially on cell phones, that allow you to block known spam calls, but you have to pay for most of them," Stenehjem said. "We believe the companies should use the technology to stop those unwanted phone calls."

Stenehjem said he now receives more of these unwanted "spoof" calls at home than he does from friends and family.

"People are absolutely getting fed up with them," Stenehjem said. "And so am I."

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