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New phone scam hits the Northland from your own phone number

Phones across the Northland have fallen victim to a new form of  scamming, according to the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB). Consumers around the area have reported illegal marketing calls that display their own phone number on caller ID.

The calls are often dialed by computerized calling centers with recorded messages. Scammers rely on the phone user’s curiosity about such calls, but BBC advises the public not to answer.

“This is another clever ruse scammers have devised to get people to answer their phones,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “We’re advising people to override that instinct.”

Here’s how it works: The phone rings and you go to pick it up. Displayed on the caller ID is your own name and number. If your curiosity is sparked, you decide to answer it.

Big mistake.

Once you answer the phone, you’re automatically put on the “active” list, and the preliminary scammers then sell your number to other scammers, thus creating a web of automated message systems that can call you whenever they please.

These systems then masquerade themselves in an attempt to gain personal information. The calls may disguise themselves as anything from free cruises to fake government calls asking for access to credit card information. This act, known as “spoofing,” is illegal, but the number of scams plaguing phone numbers is still sweeping across the country.

So if you find yourself frequently calling yourself. . .don’t panic, and don’t answer. This new hoax is yet another tool in scammers’ growing arsenal.

If you suspect that you, or someone you know, has been a victim of this type of scamming, contact the Cloquet Police Department at 218-879-1247.