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Caller ID Spoofing: Dialing Up Scams For Unwary Consumers

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - With caller ID, it's easy to tell when we may be getting a spam call. But now crooks are spoofing numbers from reputable companies we trust and recognize.

One Garland woman discovered spotting a spoof is not as simple as it seems.

It started with a pop-up.

Earlier this year, Dawn Petersen said she heard her computer emitting a warning signal. The message claimed it was from Microsoft, so Petersen called the number on her screen.

"He said, 'Your identity has been compromised. Do you have any credit cards?' " Petersen recalled.

Petersen revealed no personal information except for the name of her bank: Capital One.

"About that time, I got a text saying I got a pending charge! I'm like, 'That's weird.' " Petersen said.

The text informed her of a fraudulent charge: $2,000 spent on a porn site. Just as Petersen was about to call her bank, the bank called her. Or so she thought.

"All of it was so legitimate to me, they called me from the Capital One phone number, they knew information about me," Petersen said.

Petersen even double checked the phone number. Sure enough, the digits matched the customer service line listed on the back of her credit card.

"It was the same number and I said, 'Wow, that's crazy!' " Petersen said.

So when the person at that number told Petersen to load $2,000 onto gift cards, she did.

"I wouldn't have bought those cards if I didn't think I was talking to an employee from Capital One," Petersen said.

But before sending off the gift cards, Petersen stopped herself.

"Things were going off in my head. I could even hear God go, 'Dawn, really?' " Petersen said.

While Petersen dodged the gift card scam, she did get spoofed.

Crooks can make it seem like they're calling from a legitimate company or government agency. Petersen said her advice is simple: when in doubt, just hang up.

"I had no idea someone could take over a phone number," Petersen said.

Petersen used some of the gift cards she bought. But after the Ones for Justice contacted Capital One, the company waived the interest rate on the remaining balance she owed on the gift cards.

A spokeswoman from Capital One issued the following statement:

"Being targeted by a scam can be frustrating and scary and we are saddened that Ms.Peterson had to go through this experience. We urge all of our customers to be vigilant about the potential for financial scams and to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves, including refusing to provide personal account information to unsolicited callers and remembering that we will never ask them to purchase gift cards in order to make a payment."

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