Scammers try to stay one step ahead of consumers. When consumers started using Caller ID to screen calls, scammers adopted a practice known as "ID Spoofing.”

Naturally, the Internet has made all of this easier. Websites such as www.spoofcard.com will, in exchange for fee, allow a customer to input a fake name and number to display on a recipient's caller ID. Scammers can use this service to disguise their numbers as those of trusted government agencies, banks or even private residences to convince their targets to make a payment or provide personal information.

The practice is similar to e-mail spoofing, in which a sender can make it appear his message was sent from another e-mail address.

Some caller ID spoofing services even offer to disguise callers' voices. For instance, a man could speak in his normal voice and computer software would make it sound like a woman's voice.

In a recent complaint filed with the Ohio Attorney General's Office, an Ohio woman reported that a scammer even hijacked her residential phone number. The woman received a string of calls from people the scammer had called — and presumably tried to con — using her number.

You might think these practices are illegal, but they aren't. Earlier this year the House of Representatives approved a measure that would outlaw phone number spoofing but the Senate has yet to act

Meanwhile, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray cautions that you should be wary of any unexpected callers — or e-mailers — who ask for your personal information. Remember, even if their number appears to be from a legitimate organization, it could be spoof.