Resident gets 45 scam calls in one night as fraud attempts spike in Norwich
A Norwich resident received 45 phone calls in a single night recently -- all from his own phone number.
It’s an extreme example of a problem that has spiked in town in the past couple of weeks, said Police Sgt. Jennifer Frank: scam phone calls and emails.
The scammers, Frank said, are masking the number they’re really calling from and presenting your own instead. It’s a form of what’s called "spoofing." The goal is either to confuse you into thinking a family member is phoning you, or to make you curious enough to pick up a call you would otherwise ignore.
“We haven’t seen it here in Norwich,” Frank said, “but one county over we’re seeing where people are spoofing the police department calling.”
Once you pick up a call from a number that’s in any way suspicious, Frank said, it’s best to remain silent until the person on the other end speaks. Even saying “yes” may expose you to an unexpected phone charge or be taken as legal permission from the scammer to continue calling -- so until you know who you’re speaking with, she said, it’s best not to give an affirmative answer.
You should never give personal information over the phone, Frank said -- and if you get a call seemingly from the IRS or another law enforcement agency warning that your arrest is imminent if you don’t pay a fine, it’s a scam.
“If the police department has a warrant for your arrest,” she said, “we don’t call you on the phone and tell you that.”
Another basic rule of self-protection: If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
Frank, who has been on the Norwich force for about eight months, said the level of scam calls and emails in town is higher than in her previous stops, Windsor, VT and Plymouth, N.H., perhaps because of the community’s demographics.
Residents who believe they’ve gotten a scam call or email can call the police, she said -- though there’s little the department can do about the problem.
The IRS is prosecuting scammers who impersonate its agents, the sergeant said. Here’s a link with background information and instructions on how to report an IRS scam.