Caller ID spoofing is when a telephone's caller ID displays a number that does not belong to the person calling. The telephone network is tricked into displaying this spoofed number as a result of flaws in caller ID technology. Caller ID spoofing can look like the call is coming from any phone number. People inherently trust caller ID simply because they are unaware that caller ID spoofing exists.
WKYC in Ohio reports, "Police want residents to be aware that scammers are using caller ID spoofing in an attempt to trick them into thinking they are talking to a police officer." Recently an elderly resident contacted police to report a possible scam. According to the report, "She said she was contacted by someone claiming to be an FBI agent who wanted personal information in order to award a $600,000 sweepstakes. He told her she could call her local police department to confirm it was not a scam. As an officer was speaking with the resident, she received another call that came up on caller ID with the name and phone number of a North Canton police detective."
Pretty scary and very effective. Most people, including me, rely on caller ID for most or all calls. When the name or number of a familiar person appears, I'm likely to say "Hello John" and expect John's voice. But by trusting this technology, we open ourselves up to scams like the one above.
To avoid this scam, simply recognize it exists, and be on guard in situations where you don't recognize the voice or the caller is offering a reward, winnings or anything that seems out of place, too good to be true or in some way shape or form surprises you.
Hang up the phone on scammers--especially when they keep calling back. Eventually they will stop when they realize you're not an idiot. Identity theft protection can't protect you here, but being savvy will.