BUCKHANNON — Answer phone calls from the Upshur County Courthouse with caution — it could be a telemarketer.
That’s the message Upshur County administrator Carrie Wallace is trying to spread after several county residents have received bogus calls purportedly coming from the commission’s main office line, as well as a courthouse fax number.
Wallace said on Monday, July 3, she was contacted by two residents, claiming they received calls from the commission office’s main line — 304-472-0535.
“I knew I was the only one in the office that day, and I knew I hadn’t called them, so I figured something must be going on,” Wallace said.
Then, on Wednesday, July 5, Wallace was notified by another resident that she had received a call on Tuesday, July 4, from a fax number at the courthouse, 304-472-1029. When the resident returned the call, she realized it had originated from a fax machine. That’s when Wallace contacted the commission’s telephone service carrier, Frontier Communications. Aaron Lonon, an account executive with Frontier, informed Wallace that telemarketers could be engaging in the practice of “spoofing.”
“It’s called spoofing, and it’s becoming ever more popular, and it’s where telemarketers get ahold of a fax number or a telephone number that’s actually still in use, and they’re able to use that number on their caller ID to encourage people to answer,” Wallace said. “I would encourage anyone that receives a call from those numbers to go ahead and hang up and then call back again to confirm that it’s the same person on the other line that actually called them.”
According to the Federal Communications Commission, spoofing occurs when a telemarketer manipulates the caller ID feature to convince a caller that he or she is a representative of banks, creditors, insurance companies or the government. Although it may be impossible to tell if an incoming call is a spoofed or not, exercise caution if asked to give away any personal information, the FCC advises.
That’s why Wallace is advising people to hang up and call back if they receive a call from the Upshur County Courthouse.
“I’d hate for anyone to give out any personal information thinking that it’s somebody calling from the courthouse when it actually may not be,” Wallace said. “It’s happening nationwide with all different telephone service providers, so I don’t think it’s something specific that’s happening with Frontier.”
Under the FCC’s Truth in Caller ID Act, spoofing is illegal when harm is intended; the rules prohibit anyone from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongly obtain anything of value, according to an FCC consumer guide on the subject.
Frontier has forwarded the commission’s case to its fraud department and will file a complaint with the FCC on behalf of the commission.