06 Apr Caller ID spoofing: That’s not their phone number!
WHAT IS IT?
Caller ID spoofing is changing the caller identification number to a false or incorrect number. When a phone call is placed, the caller ID is transmitted through a technique called Frequency Shift Keying. This process changes the caller ID into a binary format. It is during this process, however, that caller ID spoofing may occur.
HOW DO PEOPLE COMMIT IT?
People commit caller ID spoofing by paying for online services. These online services only need 3 things: the phone number being called from, the phone number being called, and the phone number to appear on the caller ID. Once the online services have these three items, they can create caller ID spoofing.
ARE THERE WAYS TO CATCH IT?
Long story short, yes!
For starters, whenever you receive a call from a number or company you do not know, do not answer.
After this, enter the phone number into a search engine. This search can tell you if the number is associated with a legitimate company and/or been used for caller ID spoofing previously. If the number is associated with a company, you can call the company to confirm they are indeed trying to get ahold of you. In addition, if the number is tied to previous instances of caller ID spoofing, you can be proud of yourself for avoiding a potential scam.
On the other hand, if you do answer the call and are suspicious of caller ID spoofing, you can check by putting the caller on hold and calling the number on another line. If the number takes you to the company the caller claims to be associated with, or you reach a busy signal, there is potential the caller is telling the truth.
REAL WORLD EXAMPLE
Earlier this year, a tax scam in Pottsville, PA, claimed to arrest victims if they didn’t pay outstanding tax debts. The caller ID showed that the call was from a Pennsylvania phone number: 570-622-1234. This number belonged to Pottsville City Hall, giving a false sense of security to anyone who received the call. To combat the spoofing, the police warned city members of the scam and reminded Pottsville citizens to never give out any personal information over the telephone.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW LEGALLY
Spoofing a phone number with malicious intent is against the law. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also prohibits the use of caller ID spoofing with intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value.
If you ever question the number that you see on your caller ID, remember to be cautious. When anyone can call you as another person or company, it’s impossible to know his or her intentions. Make sure to take the time to verify the person on the other end of the phone.