I’ve noticed for a while now that annoying calls are coming to both my home phone and my cell phone that look like local calls. Sometimes they even have the same exchange numbers as my phone (those first three numbers after the area code)–unusual because not even my other local friends have the same exchange numbers, so now I don’t even answer a number that looks too much like my own number. One day I also had a woman call and say she was returning a call that had come from my number–after I hung up I suspected she had been called by someone else faking my number, so I did a little internet research and found this page from the FTC about how scammers can fake caller ID info. If you’ve been getting calls that look a lot like your number, you are not alone. It’s a new scam and it’s dangerous for people who assume they are real local numbers and pick up expecting it to be a neighbor or local business or organization. The link has tips for handling these calls. Please share this info with friends and family who might be vulnerable to falling for scam calls.

Another thing you need to know is about a new scam where you get a call about an iCloud breach. I learned about this today when I got a call on my landline. The name said Apple Inc. and the phone number had my same area code. I answered out of curiosity and heard a recording telling me that my data was exposed in an iCloud breach and I needed to call a number (the number started with 833) or I could hold to talk to someone before I used any of my Apple products. (I don’t remember verbatim what was said, but that was the gist.) This annoying call came 5 times today (and left voicemails, which scam callers don’t always do) before I had the time to get on the phone company’s website and block the number. As soon as I heard the first call, I was skeptical (I mean, of course, that’s just how I am). So I got online and just googled “Apple iCloud phishing calls” and found this helpful article from MacWorld. ┬áIt explains that it is indeed just a scam and some tips for how you can tell it’s a fraud (some of the same things were red flags for me and some was just my skeptical instinct).

There’s more than just fake news out there, there are also Twitter bots and fake product reviews. I have a couple links to help with both of these.

First, if you see a suspicious Twitter account (suspicious maybe because all it does is post weird political memes 24/7, for example), you can check it at Botometer. It can tell you how probable it is that a particular account is a bot rather than a fellow human. It can also check followers (of your own or another account) to see which might be more likely to be bots. I don’t know how practical it is for large-scale bot-detecting, but it’s a fun little tool if you see an account you think might be fake.

Another handy website is Fakespot. Fakespot can tell you how reliable the reviews for a particular product is. It covers Amazon, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and the Apple App store. So, for instance, if you are searching for bluetooth headphones on Amazon, you might, like me, sort the results by the highest rating. Then the top of the list is a brand you’ve never heard of, so you can plug it into Fakespot and find out if those reviews are really reliable. If it looks like the assessment below, then you know you probably need to keep looking:

fakespot

I’ve noticed that electronics (especially those with brand names I’ve never heard in my life) are especially notorious for fake reviews.

If you see results more like this, though, you know the reviews are more legit:

fakespot2

To learn more about how it works, check out their About Us page.