Receive a call from yourself? Don’t pick up

OYS Investigation: Don't pick up calls from yourself

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Despite our best efforts to get rid of them, our phones continue to ring with robocalls. And a lot of people are now getting calls from their own numbers. It’s a form of neighbor spoofing where robocallers or telemarketers disguise numbers to look like ones from your area.

I receive these calls often. It’s usually at the most inconvenient times. Half the time its someone trying to sell me something, or trying to steal my personal information.

In our newsroom, I’m not the only one. Our 4 p.m. producer Lauchlan Smith recently got a call from her number.

"Why am I calling myself? Obviously, I'm not doing that. So I answered and it immediately hung up,” Smith said.

Reporter Catherine Patterson recently got a call from herself too.

“Never heard it ring. It didn’t leave a voicemail. But I’ve gotten this before and it kind of makes me think that the scammers are getting a little smarter, which is very scary,” Patterson said.

The Federal Trade Commission says this type of neighbor spoofing is becoming more common. If you receive a call from yourself, don’t pick up.

"I can guarantee you, if the call is displaying your own number, they don’t have permission to use that number. It’s definitely illegal and we would recommend you don’t answer it,” Ian Barlow, the FTC Do Not Call Program Coordinator, said.

It’s estimated by early next year, over half of the calls we get on our smartphones will be robocalls. Two weeks ago, lawmakers introduced bipartisan legislation that will increase fines as much as $10,000 per call for scam robocallers.

The Federal Communications Commission is also pushing U.S. carriers to adopt a call authentication system that will create a digital fingerprint which essentially could help verify the call is real and not a scam.

Meanwhile, the FTC says if you are on the National Do Not Call list and you receive a robocall, report it.

"The more data we get at the FTC, the better we can target our law enforcement. The better understanding, we have of the consumer experience,” Barlow said.

The FTC says keep your number to yourself. Don’t offer it up to sign up to register for anything. If you receive a suspected robocall, let it go to voicemail. We’re told legit companies are supposed to leave a call back number allowing you to opt out. If not, then it’s probably an illegal call. You may also want consider call blocking apps like NoMoRobo or Calls Blacklist.

You can sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry here.

NoMoRobo is available in the iTunes store.

Calls Blacklist is available for Android phones here.

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