Neighbor Spoofing and Why My Opinion on Voicemail Has Changed

I had taken a real stand on voicemail. Essentially, I am against it and had said more than once, please don’t leave me one. It involves stopping what I am doing just to usually listen through a bunch of prompts and old messages to hear you say, “Call me back.” I had known you called. I saw it on my screen in big letters, MISSED CALL FROM PHIL WADLAND, for example.

But now, because of something called “neighbor spoofing,” I have changed my mind. Neighbor spoofing is a form of caller ID used by telemarketers, scammers, and robocallers, which uses auto-dialing and VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) services to send unsolicited phone calls. These calls have an outgoing Caller ID that closely matches your area code and phone number.

By mimicking caller ID as closely as possible to the phone number they are placing the call to, spammers can trick more of their targets into answering the phone. They even add regular names like Patrick Miller or Mollie Hagan. You may not recognize the number immediately, but it resembles the last name of a friend or person you know and you figure it is indeed someone who needs to tell you something important. Neighbor spoofing is illegal, and is intended to steal something from us: our time, our money, our identity, and our security.

I have had names pop up I thought were friends or clients only to be asked to have my computer cleaned or if I wanted to get a loan or win a fake trip on a cruise line. It has made me averse to answering the phone again. Caller ID is flawed now, and I am suspicious of scammers.

So, leave a message if you cannot text for some reason. You can’t rely on the MISSED CALL trigger to always do the trick anymore. Best to leave messages again so people like me will know it is really you.

And while you are deflecting your own scam calls this month, just set the phone on “Do Not Disturb,” and start reading the pages of our beautiful October issue laden with local wineries and oyster festivals, and the positive stories about the people and places all over Alexandria.

Cheers,

Mary Wadland