The practice known as “caller ID spoofing” involves a caller faking their identity by using the phone number of a third party to make a call. There are a number of reasons why a caller might want to mask their number, including the desire to remain anonymous, the desire to avoid telemarketers, or the desire to give the impression that the call came from a reputable business.
Not even a virtual phone system is safe from spoof calls. However, don’t worry. All your concerns, such as “what is caller ID spoofing?” will be addressed in this article.
What Is Caller ID Spoofing?
Phone number spoofing to mask caller IDs is an issue that impacts the people on the receiving end of the spoof calls because a number can be stolen and used by criminals to launch spoofing attacks.
Cloning a caller ID to make it look like it’s coming from a different number is a type of phone fraud known as caller ID spoofing. People can use a web-based tool for this or tinker with their phone’s settings. Untrustworthy telemarketers often try to trick Canadians and Americans into picking up the phone by falsely representing themselves by changing the information displayed on Caller ID.
Neighboring is the process of altering the Caller ID to match the first six digits of a phone number; this can make it seem like the call is coming from someone in the immediate area. Mirroring is the practice in which your own phone number is displayed on an incoming call.
It is possible for the caller ID to display an incorrect number (i.e., pose as a recognizable brand).
People can also fool the phone system by setting the Caller ID to show an unreachable number (e.g., 123-456-7890, 999-999-9999, etc.) With this, the perpetrators hope to steal sensitive information from their victims.
Some callers may need to spoof a call for safety reasons in certain situations (for example, when contacting domestic violence shelters). However, the true goal of this practice is usually to get people to answer the phone, so they can begin their sales pitch or scam.
What Kind of Spoofs Can I Get?
There are many kinds of spoof calls that can get you. Here are just a few examples:
- Scammers targeting bank account information often pose as bank employees, convincing their victims that they need access to their financial data in order to fix a problem. The truth is that they want your personal details so they can steal your money.
- Scams involving the government typically involve a con artist posing as an official who threatens you with dire consequences or the loss of a benefit unless you provide personal information such as your Social Security number. This is information theft for fraudulent purposes.
- Scams involving unpaid tax bills typically begin with a phone call claiming the recipient is in danger of being arrested, fined, or deported unless a payment is made immediately. The FTC warns that government agencies such as the IRS will not harass you over the phone about past-due payments. A letter detailing your debt and potential settlement terms is the norm.
- In so-called “tech support scams,” a con artist, usually masquerading as an agent from Microsoft, approaches you, saying that your computer is malfunctioning. If you give them access to your system remotely, they may try to install malware or other unwanted programs while posing as repair technicians and charging you for their time.
- The caller claims that you’ve won a prize or have been selected for a business opportunity. They’ll tell you that a small up-front fee is all that stands between you and your win. However, once you pay the fee, the con artist runs off with your money.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
It is very difficult to tell fraud from the genuine article, thanks to all the technology that is used to bypass our senses. Most of these spoofers are from other parts of the world and are difficult to apprehend and bring to justice.
There are, however, measures you can take to avoid being a spoofing victim:
- Investigate the origin of the annoying calls. Spoofed calls can be hard to track, but after three attempts, authorities may be able to help. In most places, Call Trace comes pre-activated on your phone line. If a trace is completed successfully, only then will you be charged for the service.
- Get your listing removed from public view. A private listing prevents your information from appearing in the printed phone book or being accessible through Directory Assistance. This service comes with both a one-time activation fee and a recurring monthly charge.
- Modify your phone number. We realize this is a last resort, but for some people, it may be the best option. If you’re receiving harassing phone calls and want to change your number, you can do so for free in most areas.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can also be contacted directly to report a case of phone-related fraud.
Tips for Preventing Call Spoofing
If the number displayed on your caller ID appears to be legitimate, call spoofing may be difficult to detect. However, following this advice may help you avoid falling for a con.
Calls from unknown numbers should not be answered
Avoid picking up calls from numbers you don’t know. Do not answer the phone if the number is unfamiliar, especially if the caller is asking for something that seems fishy.
Put the phone down and call them back
If you’re not sure if a call is from the government or a legitimate business, hang up and call the number directly to verify the information. If the company or group that has contacted you is unfamiliar, you probably don’t need to return their call.
Don’t share any personal information
A red flag is raised if you get a call from someone asking for information out of the blue. If you didn’t initiate a call directly with a bank or company using a verified telephone number, do not give out personal information; just hang up.
Do not simply answer “yes” or “no”
Watch out for people who try to bait you into saying “yes” by asking whether you can hear them on the phone. They may make a voice recording of your answer, which could be used out of context to agree to future calls or transactions.
Don’t fall for fear tactics
Con artists may use threats to get you to act hastily without giving any thought to whether or not they are who they claim to be. If you are uncertain about the legitimacy of a call, you should hang up and consult a trusted loved one or friend.
Limit access to confidential information
When using a smartphone with the appropriate software, it is possible to ignore or silence incoming calls. In iOS 13 and later, there is an option to “silence unknown callers” on an iPhone. Samsungs also allow you to silence calls from unknown numbers. A call-blocking app is an option if your phone doesn’t already have this functionality built in. You can either get a dedicated blocker for your home phone or inquire with your provider about the availability of such a feature.
Disable all remote desktop connections
Potential fraudsters might call pretending to be from a tech support service and ask to check on your computer. Never allow a stranger, even if they claim to be from a major company like Microsoft, remote access to your devices.
Blocking and Labeling: A Solution
Spoofing a phone number is one reason why you might see it flagged as spam or blocked on your caller ID. Several businesses in the telecommunications industry and app creators provide call-blocking and labeling services that can tell if a call is suspicious or not by analyzing call patterns or user complaints.
For a good reason, the FCC approved automatic robocall blocking by phone companies. Carriers can also provide whitelist services to their customers. Calls from unknown or unlisted numbers would be blocked by these services. The FCC has urged companies that block calls to make it easier for customers whose numbers have been blocked to get in touch with them and have the blocking removed. Providers should also make it easy for their customers to report mistakes in their blocked-number databases and provide details about the blocked calls.
It is possible to legally prevent your phone number from being displayed to the person you are calling. This is not a spoofing attempt.
You now know exactly what “caller ID spoofing” entails. If you know how caller ID spoofing works and what you can do to prevent it, you can protect your personal and professional reputation. Never answer calls from unknown numbers, and always block them if you feel unsafe.
Protecting yourself from email spoofing, direct domain spoofing attacks, and other forms of spoofing that could damage your reputation is always a good idea.
Working as a cyber security solutions architect, Alisa focuses on application and network security. Before joining us she held a cyber security researcher positions within a variety of cyber security start-ups. She also experience in different industry domains like finance, healthcare and consumer products.