Alert: If You Get a Call from Your Own Number, Do Not Pick Up

Fraudsters are trying to get you in a strange new way.

If you've received a missed call from your own number recently, it's not from your future self (as cool as that would be). The more plausible explanation is that a spammer is "spoofing" your exact digits in order to steal valuable info or even major bucks.

Donny Claxton received one of these dangerous calls late Wednesday night. "I look at the phone, and it's me," he told local Texas station WFAA (opens in new tab). "How am I calling myself?" Claxton picked up and stayed on the line for about nine seconds before the silent caller hung up.

Another Texan reported a similar encounter, except he heard something on the other end. "It said my account had been compromised through AT&T," Waco resident Anson Massey told KXXV (opens in new tab). "I thought it was odd. We get those all the time but never from my own number." The fake recording even asked him for the last four digits of the account holder's social security number.

The two men aren't not alone. Other targets (opens in new tab) have shared their confusing encounters with "themselves" on Twitter, simultaneously intrigued and worried about the weird calls.

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Despite the familiar number, most phone thieves aren't hiding in your neighborhood, or even the U.S. They copy or "spoof" the digits by using a computer program, Phylissia Landix of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) told WFAA (opens in new tab). Many use your local area code or imitate the entire thing. The tactics entice people to pick up, enabling the scammers to insert fraudulent charges on their phone bills (opens in new tab) or obtain sensitive information like social security or credit card numbers.

Like the recording Massey received, newer malicious robocalls may reference data breaches, especially since major hacks have made recent headlines (opens in new tab). "They're trying to create the air of legitimacy through saying, 'Hey, there's been a data breach. You've been compromised,'" BBB regional director Adam Price told KXXV (opens in new tab). "Don't answer the phone. Obviously, there's no possible way that I'm calling myself."

Besides letting unknown or suspicious numbers ring, you can also protect yourself by signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry (opens in new tab) and reporting any potential scams to the Federal Trade Commission (opens in new tab), advises Selina Tedesco, Product Testing Analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute (opens in new tab).

"With today's technology it's easy for scammers to use a fraudulent number to call you, whether that number is your own or one with your area code," she says. "Always be wary of the information you give out. In the past there have been scams where simply saying "yes" can put you at risk of fraudulent charges (opens in new tab), so it's best practice to hang up if you're at all suspicious."

The FCC (opens in new tab) additionally recommends verifying any callers claiming to represent a company or the government by hanging up and dialing the phone number on your account statement or official website.

Taking the extra steps could keep your personal information—and your money—from falling in the wrong hands.

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