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Police warn parents to talk to kids about dangers digital scams, phone number spoofing

Children can fall victim to digital scams just as easily as adults, so police want parents to talk to their children about staying safe online.
Sony smartphone

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Police are warning parents to talk to kids about a scam involving scammers using real phone numbers to call or text that gets traced back to other people.

The scam is called "spoofing," and it can be done through applications available on a cell phone. Scammers use other people's numbers to contact an individual.

"It’s potentially really dangerous. Like, people can find you from your phone number," said Colleen Solitro.

It wasn't long ago Solitro got a text from an unknown number asking to meet.

"It was like, 'let’s hang out soon,'" said Solitro. "And then they called me."

Solitro found the number was from a spammer. It’s because of cases like this that the word "spoofing" is becoming big.

Clarksville Police posted a warning on Facebook on Nov. 15 saying the department was aware of multiple reports of texts with "gruesome" images threatening people if they refuse to pay an amount of money.

The scam is not new, but police are saying parents need to warn their kids about what they could receive on their phones.

RELATED: Scammers are posing as Oak Ridge police in fake phone calls

RELATED: How to prevent your number from being 'spoofed' by scammers

"It's the same talk you have with your children about strangers," said Whitney Davis, a mother of three. She said as her children grow up, this will be the lesson she teaches them.

"I feel like they can get taken advantage of really easily," said Davis.

News4 talked to cybersecurity expert Bruce McCully with Dynamic Edge, a Nashville IT company, about what parents should know about "spoofing" and phone safety.

"It’s more about not trusting anyone and making sure you expect what you're being asked," said McCully.

McCully said giving your kids a cell phone is about teaching them responsibility, the same as teaching them to drive a car. He said to follow the constant advice and that parents need to watch what goes on their kid's social media, that they should scrub phone numbers and anything else making it easy to find a child.

"Have a conversation upfront about what to do when something goes differently than you expect," he said.

Other companies like Nashville Electric Service are warning of scammers calling with NES's phone number. The company stresses to never give important information away over the phone.

This story was originally reported by WSMV