Caller ID Spoofing: What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself
Have you ever needed to send a call or a text, but preferred not to share your Caller ID with the recipient? Caller ID spoofing can help with that. However, the technology that helps those looking to protect their phone number is unfortunately also used by spammers and other bad actors to put unsuspecting consumers at even greater risk of falling victim to phone scams and harassment.
Caller ID spoofing is arguably one of the larger reasons behind the of nearly 3 billion unwanted spam and telemarketing calls placed to mobile phones each month in the United States. One of the most common ways Caller ID spoofing is used for spam and telemarketing scam calls is through neighbor spoofing. If you’ve ever wondered why scam calls so often have the same first 6 digits as your phone number, that’s because they’re neighbor spoofed. If your phone number is 732-227-4410, they’ll call you from 732-227-3009 to make the number look local.
Apps like TrapCall solves this caller ID spoofing problem by automatically blocking neighbor spoofing. So rather than getting tricked into answering a phone number that looks legitimate, you’ll instead get a notification from TrapCall alerting you that a spam call has been blocked.
What is Caller ID Spoofing?
Caller ID spoofing is technology that allows you to alter the information forwarded to your caller ID in order to hide the true origin ID. In simpler terms, caller ID spoofing allows you to display a phone number different than the actual number from which the call was placed. With caller ID spoofing, you can send and receive outgoing or incoming phone calls or texts that appear to be from any phone number of your choosing
Unfortunately, though spoofing offers many legitimate and useful benefits to its users, it is also it is also one of the many strategies that scammers use to steal your personal identity and money over the phone. Over the years, a specific spoofing strategy called neighbor spoofing has grown to be one of the driving factors behind nearly 3 billion spam & telemarketing calls mobile phone owners in the United States receive each month.
Neighbor spoofing works by tricking recipients into thinking they are receiving a legitimate phone call by showing caller ID that matches or is close to your phone number’s “NPA-NXX”. By matching their NPA-NXX closely to yours, spammers try to trick you into thinking the call is coming from a legitimate phone number because it looks as though it’s coming from a phone number in your area code — making you much more likely to answer the phone or fall for their elaborate phone scam. Neighbor spoofing offers a strong promise to spammers, one that ensures they can stay anonymous in their illegal phone scams without ever getting caught.
It is important to note that, though it is true that some forms of caller ID spoofing has been used as a vehicle to inflict harm on innocent victims, it is not entirely to blame for the growing robocall & phone scam problem in the United States. Like many tools or products that have been used to cause damage or harm to others, the people behind the illegal (and harmful) spoofed phone calls or texts are the root cause of the problem. To truly stop illegal caller ID spoofing phone calls, you must enlist third-party solutions such as TrapCall to address and stop the issue at the source.
Is Caller ID Spoofing Legal?
The short answer is yes, most forms of caller ID spoofing are legal. The only circumstances in which caller ID spoofing is illegal is if it has the intention to cause harm in some form. If no harm is intended or caused, spoofing is legal. More specifically, in the United States, “Under the Truth in Calling Act”, Federal Communication Commission rules prohibit any person or entity from transmitting misleading or inaccurate Caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value. Anyone who is illegally spoofing can face penalties of up to $10,000 for each spoofed phone call or text violation.
Though the Federal Trade Commission has done their part to try to ensure caller ID spoofing services are not abused by bad actors and crooks, their lawmaking efforts have been relatively ineffective thus far. This is because the criminals behind these spoofed phone calls already know what they’re doing is illegal. No crook is ever going to read the FCC handbook on legal versus illegal caller ID spoofing before picking up the phone to scam you. But because caller ID spoofing offers such a promise of total ambiguity without the price of getting caught for their crimes, the reward greatly outweighs the risk.
How Does Caller ID Spoofing Work?
Caller ID spoofing works in a few ways, the most popular being through VoIP (Voice-over-Internet-Protocol) technology. VoIP is the technology that allows for voice communications to be sent over an Internet connection rather than through a phone line or cell tower. Some VoIP providers allow users to configure the number they display as the caller ID through the configuration page on their website.
In spoofing services which use VoIP, caller ID spoofing works like this:
- The user opens the application (web or mobile) of the spoofing provider.
- They enter the number they wish to call, followed by the number they wish to display.
- When they press ‘send’ or ‘call’, the call is sent through a VoIP service
- The VoIP Service changes the outbound caller ID and then connects the user to their desired number.
What Types of Caller ID Spoofing Are Harmful?
Though not all spam calls you receive come from spoofed phone numbers, a vast majority of are neighbor spoofed. This is because spammers value the promise of total ambiguity that neighbor spoofing offers their elaborate phone scams. Neighbor spoofed spam calls are the type of caller ID spoofing that is considered harmful and damaging to the recipient because they are designed to steal your time, money, and personal identity over the phone.
There are two reasons spoofed spam calls are particularly dangerous:
- The technology behind spoofing makes the calls or texts nearly untraceable. Not only can you not access the real phone number behind the call, but trying to call the phone number of which spammed you will either show as inactive or direct you to the person of which phone number was stolen to place the call. This makes reporting the spam call almost entirely a waste of time because in this circumstance you are never providing an accurate report of the phone number that illegally spammed you.
- Many of these callers originate from international locations (especially third world countries), where they have even less to lose than scammers in the United States. They have no regard for our communication laws, our Do Not Call List and the lowest regard for our personal wellbeing. What they can get in return from posing as Microsoft Tech Support or the IRS is much more than they could ever make in a day working elsewhere in their country.
Spoofed Spam Calls: What is the Risk?
The consequences engaging with neighbor spoofed spam calls can be devastating for its victims. Though it is reported that roughly $450 million USD is lost to phone scams each year, our research suggests that this figure is hardly a representation of the true impact. This is because that figure only accounts for those who have reported the incident or financial devastation from personal identity theft that happened months after the phone scam.
Neighbor spoofed spam calls are also particularly dangerous because they are nearly impossible to predict or prevent without the help of services such as TrapCall. Most times, spammers target their victims at random — meaning you have about a 50/50 shot of receiving a spam call if you haven’t already. Because the Do Not Call List was not designed to protect you from neighbor spoofing, and your iPhone and Android can only block the fake numbers of which these spoofed phone calls are being placed from, you must take matters into your own hands to ensure you are protected from harmful neighbor spoofing.
How Do You Stop Caller ID Spoofing?
The best solution to stop caller id spoofing is to ensure spammers & telemarketers cannot reach your phone. If they cannot get you on the phone, they can’t steal your time, money, and personal identity. This concept of a solution addresses the root of the spam call problem – if spammers can never get anyone on the phone to steal from them, spam calling is a much less attractive market to continue doing business in. However, as you now know, this can be challenging to accomplish because many solutions you once thought could help you have proven to be ineffective.
To take matters into your own hands and effectively stop harmful neighbor spoofing, you must download a call blocker app such as TrapCall. With TrapCall, you are protected before you receive a spoofed spam call. TrapCall does this by (add more here)
Follow these simple steps to stop caller id spoofing:
- Go to the Apple or Google Play Store
- Search for “TrapCall”
- Select “Download App”
- Open “TrapCall”
- Select the Green “Sign Up” Button
- Begin the Activation Process
The Best Solution to Protect Yourself From Caller ID Spoofing
We highly recommend signing up for TrapCall as the best solution to protect from unwanted neighbor spoofed calls. TrapCall is the only call blocker app that provides you with the essential toolkit to combat harmful spoofed spam calls, phone scams, and phone harassment. With TrapCall, you can easily hold callers accountable for their phone crimes and abuse.
TrapCall users enjoy features such as spam call protection, personal blacklist & whitelists, blocked call unmasking, reverse phone lookups, incoming Caller ID, and phone call recording in our Premium and Ultimate packages. TrapCall is a secure investment that ensures your privacy and personal information are protected from unwanted callers of all kinds.