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Robocall scammers are pitting victims against each other

Don’t shoot the (apparent) messenger.

Yes, illegal robocalls are still on the rise in America, but your rage is probably misdirected: Number “spoofing” allows scammers to hide their identities behind the phone numbers of innocent, clueless people. That’s right, they can use YOUR number. Here’s how it works.

Using web-based calling technology, robocallers generate phone numbers with their victims’ area codes, making the call seem more human than spam. If an angry victim calls back, they won’t end up yelling at the spoofer, but instead reach a clueless mark whose number just happened to be auto-generated.

The problem is outrageously rampant: An estimated third of all calls placed in the first half of 2018 were robocalls, according to Transaction Network Services.

It’s a huge nuisance, and it’s getting worse. Spam call-blocking mobile phone application Hiya estimates that 8 billion robocalls went out to US cellphones in 2018’s final quarter — 5 billion more than the first quarter of 2017 — the Wall Street Journal reports.

Some robocall spammers even adopt names similar to those of legitimate charities, and previous research has shown that millennials are more likely to respond to these phone fake outs.

The Federal Communications Commission has declared spoofing a priority, but the agency seems to be having little success combating it, leaving consumers to download call-verifying apps for protection.

Angela Santiago tells the Journal she changed her phone number of 20 years after she was accused of robocalling by a ticked off victim, who had received a spam call from what appeared to be Santiago’s number. The effort was in vain, though, as Santiago was once again accused of robocalling after switching numbers.

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