BUFFALO, N.Y. — The phone rings and shows the local area code. Figuring it must be important, the recipient picks up, only to hear dead air followed by the familar automated message saying you've won a free cruise.
Scam phone calls are nothing new, but now, they're getting smarter, and more personal.
"We've seen a big increase in what we call neighbor spoofing," said Melanie McGovern, communications director at the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York. People are more likely to pick up the phone if the display shows a local number because people think "oh wow that's somebody calling from the car dealership or the doctor's office and you pick up that call that turns into hey you stayed at one of our resorts, press one if yes."
It may seem like more of an inconvenience that anything, but these calls can be harmful. The Better Business Bureau reports that by engaging in these calls it can open up doors for even more scams.
"Some people always joke, oh I like to have fun with them, well then they know you're a real person and they're going to keep calling you," she said.
The Better Business Bureau says it's better to leave the calls unanswered and see if the caller leaves a voicemail. They've also created a Scam Tracker website, allowing people to review reported scams from across the country and log a new complaint.
"Just so you know that, okay this person called me from this phone number and then oh yep look somebody in Denver said oh yeah that is a scam,"McGovern said. "It's a great preventative tool so people, again, if you get that phone call, you can take a look and say oh yep definitely a scam, I'm glad I avoided that."