NEW YORK (WABC) -- It's a sneaky scam called "spoofing," and if you don't suspect the spoof, it could cost you thousands of dollars and hours of aggravation. In this scam, consumers are getting tricked into thinking they're getting a call from the sheriff, the IRS, you name it.
The scam starts when you get a call from a scammer. They manipulate caller ID, which can be masked to show any number the caller wants, spoofing you into thinking you're getting called or even calling back the real entity.
We've had victims who believed they were being threatened by the IRS make payments via Western Union or send money cards directly to the hacker.
Spoofers mask their numbers, so you think you're speaking to your bank, in order to gain your confidence and trick you into revealing personal information.
A spoofing campaign from scammers pretending to be from a utility company and threatening to shut off service is sometimes successful in scaring homeowners and businesses enough to send thousands of dollars to the spoofers.
If you get a call from someone you're not sure about, the best practice is hang up and call the customer service number on your bill or the website in order to verify.
And don't click on emailed links, which could possibly lead you to a dummy website and trick you there.
The bottom line? Protect your personal information. One slip up could cost you your money or even you identity.
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7 On Your Side: How 'spoofing' scams could cost you thousands