By Wesley Harris
A Louisiana Tech mom is alerting other parents of an attempt to scam money from her in a phone call supposedly coming from the campus’s police department.
The parent said she received a call her caller ID indicated was coming from Louisiana Tech. The caller wanted her credit card number to pay off her student’s outstanding balance. Suspecting a scam, she hung up and called the number displayed on her phone and was connected to the Tech Police Department.
No one at the police department was seeking money from her or her student. A scammer had “spoofed” the Tech Police phone number to make the call appear legitimate, an increasing scheme to steal money using modern technology.
Spoofing occurs when callers deliberately falsify the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Scammers often spoof a number from a company or a government agency you may already know and trust. If you answer, they use scam scripts to steal your money or obtain valuable personal information for use in fraudulent activity.
Scammers can spoof any phone number to make the incoming call appear legitimate. It is easy to be fooled.
Louisiana Tech Assistant Police Chief Bill Davis said the department has never called students or their families seeking payment for fines or fees.
“Any legitimate fine a student owes is posted to their account and can be resolved when they register for the next quarter,” Davis said. “The University does not make calls to collect funds owed by any student.”
Davis said such scams are occurring with increasing frequency. He said this spring,
the parents of several Tech student athletes received phone calls that appeared to be from authorities. The caller told parents their student had been arrested but by paying a fine before they were booked, the matter could be resolved. The scammers were able to collect money from several of the targeted parents.
“Using high pressure tactics that the matter had to be taken care of immediately, the parents did not have time to contact their students,” Davis said. He noted similar scams hit other Louisiana universities this spring as well as across the country.
Parents of athletes at Ohio State, Cal, and Miami were targeted earlier this year. One dad immediately recognized the scam because his daughter was playing in a game at the time of the call.
Agencies that combat spoofing like the Federal Communications Commission suggest not answering calls from unknown number but allowing them to go to voice mail. If it’s important, the caller will leave a message.
More information on combating spoofing is available at https://www.fcc.gov/spoofing