Tagged: reverse phone lookup

Is Caller ID Spoofing Illegal?

Sep 30, 2019 |

Caller ID spoofing

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.

The Legal Way

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.

The Illegal Way

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.

Local Spoofing

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.

Avoiding Spoofing Scams

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.



Do Free Phone Lookups Exist?

Nov 28, 2018 |

iPhone reverse cell phone lookup


Readers often ask if it’s possible to look up phone numbers for free. Many sites offer free White Pages, cell phone numbers or reverse lookups. However, what they deliver is bad information, limited information, or require payment for a premium service. Some sites refer you to a separate paying site. In effect, I have never found a completely free site or app with complete and accurate information. Don’t despair. There are several efficient and accurate apps that will supply the information you seek. Some are more expensive and more difficult to use so it is wise to request a trial before committing to a membership. Popular sites include CallerSmart, BeenVerified, Intelius, and Spokeo.

What Free Phone Lookup Apps Offer

Not all apps are created equal, and some are better than others. I have done extensive research on free apps using known information. It is common to receive bad or incomplete information. I have routinely encountered the following issues:

  1. Faulty or Outdated Information

Approximately 50% of the information found on free phone lookup sites is outdated or incorrect. I searched my personal information and received an address from 12 years ago. There were ancient phone numbers and a list of relatives and associates that are complete strangers to me. I have used the same process on at least five other people with the same results.

  1. Lack of Address

Many sites mask the address unless you pay for premium service.

  1. No Cell Phone Number

Complete cell phone directories are practically non-existent. Directories that exist are incomplete and are not up to date.

  1. No Reverse Lookup

I use an iPhone reverse cell phone lookup app on a regular basis. Unknown callers clog my phone daily and I want to search the numbers. Free sites will offer to look up the number but give old information or require you to pay for the caller’s name and location.

Why Isn’t it Free?

The sites that offer free information get it from other websites. They make no investment in obtaining or culling information. They simply share a database. Sites that offer accurate information must pay to keep the information current, therefore they pass the fee along to the end user. If you require up to date information and the ability to do a reverse lookup, spend a few dollars and be sure the results are correct.