According to the FBI, virtual kidnappings are on the rise in the US.
That’s when a scammer calls and claims to have kidnapped a loved one and demands money for their safe release.
The culprits use a form of robo-calling that lets them alter the phone number that appears on your caller ID.
They try to use a phone number the target recognizes to increase the chances of the phone being answered.
Once the target picks up, the scammers use personal information they find online to fake a kidnapping.
Some victims have reported losing tens of thousands of dollars.
However some victims don’t report the crime because they’re too embarrassed to admit they fell for a scam, making it harder for law-enforcement to track the scammers.
The FBI is urging people to spread awareness about virtual kidnappings so families can be prepared.
They also suggest creating a “safe” word that only immediate families know in case there is a legitimate threat.
Carriers like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are offering free apps that auto-block robo-calls and spoofing efforts.