Caller ID spoofing is when the number that appears on your Caller ID is not the real number being used to make the call. The person calling purposely gives a fake number. Users spoof their numbers to hide their identity. Caller ID spoofing is not illegal, as long as it is used for a good purpose. However, many use false information to make you believe that the number belongs to someone else. Some use the trick to make their number appear as a local number when they are calling from out of the area. They may also want to make their real number untraceable.
Businesses use spoofing for good reasons. A company can use spoofing so calls from extension lines inside the company show the business’ main phone number. Doctors and other professionals use spoofing to hide their personal numbers. The patient recognizes the phone number and the doctor’s privacy is respected. Law enforcement agencies use caller ID spoofing for similar reasons. Lastly, at-home workers may use spoofing to show their company’s phone number instead of their personal information.
Scammers use spoofing to trick someone into answering the phone. People are getting smarter, so fooling them isn’t easy. However, if a thief wants you to think he is from a legitimate company like Microsoft or Amazon, he can spoof the company’s phone number. The person answering the call could be fooled by the claim that the caller is from Microsoft’s tech support or Amazon’s billing department.
The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 forbids anyone from spoofing phone numbers if there is an intent to “defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.” Anyone caught violating the Truth in Caller ID Act will get a fine of up to $10,000 for each offense. However, the fines aren’t always enough to stop most scammers, especially if they become untraceable.
Scammers like to use fake local numbers to fool people into thinking the call is from a local business, school or neighbor. Secondly, they could use a local exchange or choose a number close to your own. For example, if your number is 717-573-0736, the scammer might use 717-573-1234 or 717-573-0712. People answer local phone numbers more often than out of the area numbers in case it’s someone they know. Although most people don’t answer unknown numbers, the person might think they’re getting a call from their child’s school, a neighbor in need or their dry cleaner. If you see a number you don’t recognize but could be important, you can use a white pages iPhone app or free reverse phone lookup app
to search before picking up the call. You can return real calls right away. The Federal Communications Commission is urging the telecommunications industry to use a stronger caller ID authentication system.
People can use several ways to avoid spoofing scams. Let calls from unknown numbers go to voicemail. If you answer a call from an unknown number, don’t answer any questions, especially if you would give are “yes” or “no” answers. If you are asked to press a button to opt out of calls, hang up the phone. You should also hang up if the caller asks for your personal information.