Police say: Calls from Altamont Fire Department are a scam

ALTAMONT — Scammers are using the phone number of the Altamont Fire Department in an attempt to gain personal information from local residents.

Curtis Cox, the deputy chief of the Guilderland Police Department, told The Enterprise that the department had received a report from a resident that a call showed up on her caller identification as “Altamont Fire D”; the person on the other end of the line then made reference to her credit, which was when she hung up and alerted police. The resident confirmed that the call was from the phone number for the Altamont Fire Department.

The Altamont Fire Department does not ever solicit donations over the phone, Chief Paul Miller told The Enterprise.

Miller said that he had received a call from the Guilderland Police asking him if the department had been raising funds over the phone — it had not. Apparently, somehow, the phone number of the Altamont Fire Department was showing up on the caller-identification display.

The practice is known as caller-ID spoofing.

The caller-ID feature can be manipulated by spoofers who then masquerade as representatives of banks, creditors, insurance companies, or even the government.

According to the Federal Communications Commission: “Spoofing occurs when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Spoofing is often used as part of an attempt to trick someone into giving away valuable personal information so it can be used in fraudulent activity or sold illegally. U.S. law and FCC rules prohibit most types of spoofing.”

The practice of caller-ID spoofing in itself is not illegal.

FCC rules, under the 2009 Truth in Caller ID Act, “prohibit any person or entity from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value.  If no harm is intended or caused, spoofing is not illegal.”

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