After a recent spate of scam phone calls in the CNMI, IT&E assured its subscribers yesterday that their personal information has not been stolen.
In an advisory yesterday, IT&E said it started receiving reports of suspicious calls on Monday, May 11, 2020, and its engineering team immediately investigated and found that the IT&E system and network “have not been hacked or compromised and that the calls are being generated outside of the IT&E network by an unknown third party.”
IT&E also stressed that statements that customer information has been stolen or compromised is not true.
“We understand that this situation is frustrating to subscribers. We are confident that our network and system are secure and that no customer information has been stolen,” said Rose Soledad, IT&E general manager. “We urge customers to refrain from answering calls from unknown numbers at this time and to hang up right away if they do happen to answer such a call.”
According to IT&E, the unknown third party responsible for the calls is replicating local phone numbers, which appear on caller ID and hide the actual phone number. The third party hides their actual number and calls local users with auto dialers. This is what is known as “call spoofing” and it’s a problem all carriers face. The spoofed calls are coming from phone numbers starting with 670-285, 670-783, 670-789 and 670-786, but these numbers may change.
“Your information only becomes compromised if you provide information during the call. Again, please hang up if you receive a suspicious call,” the IT&E advisory states.
IT&E said it is now collecting data to report the calls to the Federal Communications Commission and AT&T, which appears to be the main source of these incoming calls, which are generated outside the CNMI and Guam. “IT&E is taking action to limit such calls to the greatest extent possible,” it said.
Subscribers with concerns or that would like to report a suspicious call can reach the IT&E Customer Care Center at 682-4483 or by visiting www.ite.net to send a message.
In addition, FCC provides the following tips on how to avoid spoofing:
Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
If you answer the phone and the caller—or a recording—asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes” or “No.”
Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.
Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password. (PR)