Have you ever seen this telephone number pop up on your phone?
This is a “Spoofed” phone number.
Over the last couple of weeks I have received at least 25 calls from this number. I never answered because I don’t answer numbers that I don’t have in my address book.
I have over 400 names listed in my Droid address book. If you are not in my phone book then chances are I don’t want to speak with you. If the call is so important, the caller will leave a message and then I might call them back. If it’s worth it, I will add the new number to my address list.
That’s what I do. That’s “how I roll.”
How about you?
Are you cautious in how you treat incoming calls?
Well, I finally answered a call from (845) 842-1177 and guess what?
It was a telemarketer. He wanted to sell me pet supplies. I don’t have a pet. Nicely, I asked him to remove me from his calling list. He continued to try and sell me pet supplies. Not so nicely, I asked him to remove me from his calling list. I think I hurt his feelings. Should I care?
So I decided to do some research on this number to see what was really happening in the background to share with you.
Actually, a “spoofed” number is a technological wonder of the modern computer age.
Here’s what happens…………………..
A unscrupulous telemarketer (is there any other kind?) purchases (or hacks) a telephone list from a reputable company. They set up shop in a steamy, dark, abandoned warehouse somewhere in a run down industrial neighborhood in a major metropolitan area. They hired poor, off-their-luck indigents to make calls to unsuspecting people all over the country. These destitute and impoverished phone jockeys are given scripts to read from in order to sell you a product or service you do not need. It is a contest to see who will break first. You listen to their “spiel” and buy their product, the phone jockey wins and receives a small stipend for his enormous amount of effort.
You ask to be removed from the call list and threaten to report the number to the Attorney General’s Office the phone jockey loses and he moves on to his next number.
Has this ever happened to you?
At the very least an inordinate amount of psychological energy is expended in these phone battles. But the totally cool part of this transaction is that you have no idea where this phone call came from.
In order to maintain anonymity and stay one step ahead of the authorities, the telemarketers purchase (or hack) a computer program that “tricked” your caller ID into displaying an incorrect phone number.
Is that creative or what?
But can this get even worse?
In this day and age of computer wizardry….Heck Yes.
The telemarketers don’t even have to use their own “spoofing” software. They can rely on the expertise of their favorite neighborhood “spoofing service” to do their dirty work. That’s right, you can find your very own “spoofing service” on line. The telemarketers hook up with these companies, supply them with the numbers they want called and give them a fake number (and sometimes name) for themselves that they want to appear on the target’s Caller ID. The “spoofing service” then places the misleading info into the Caller ID system. Making matters worse, “spoofing” services are readily available over the internet, and they are disturbingly cheap.
One of the most popular, Spoofcard.com, charges only $10 for 60 minutes of call time.
Do you sometimes feel like you are being scammed like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz?
“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”.
Like the “Great OZ” these “spoofers” can convince you that you are getting calls from just about anyone from the Pope to Julian Assange.
Can anyone do this?
Do you have to ask?
This is the United States, land of entrepreneurial spirit and the free market system.
It’s so easy it’s scary.
I read that in 2006, Paris Hilton was using Spoofcard to send evil and nasty messages to her arch rival Lindsay Lohan and her friends.
It got so bad that Spoofcard had to suspend her account.
I imagine if Paris Hilton can navigate this type of scam, any human being (or anthropoid for that matter) with a preschool education can.
Honestly, this activity can be dangerous and alarming.
For instance, some of the more creative and sinister scam artists are beginning to use spoofing to trick people into giving up their credit card information, posing as representatives of the victim’s credit company, and having the Caller ID to “prove” it.
Do you see where I am going with this?
Don’t believe everything you see, especially a caller ID name.
Is there anything you can do to combat this predatory behavior?
Well, there are a couple of actions you can take to reduce the amount of “spoofing” in your lives.
1. Once you figure out that you have been “spoofed”, ask to be removed from the said calling list or ask to be put on their “do not call” list. That may not solve anything but legally the telemarketer is required by national law to accommodate you.
2. The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009, which was signed into law Dec. 22, 2010, prohibits caller ID spoofing for the purposes of defrauding or otherwise causing harm. In June 2010, the Federal Communications Commission adopted rules implementing the Truth in Caller ID Act bill to make it illegal.
3. Write down the name and number and add it to public “watchdog” websites like “CallerComplaints.com.” You can see my addition by clicking on this link:
4. If all else fails, get yourself a 1-800 number and hook up with your neighborhood “spoofer” and have some fun calling every telemarketer you can find and try to sell them a training class on ethics and good behavior.
Here are 3 great tips that I found on the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) website that will help you avoid troublesome telemarketers and save you from exposing yourselves to their scams.
• Don’t give out personal information in response to an incoming call. Identity thieves are clever – they often pose as representatives of banks, credit card companies, creditors, or government agencies to get people to reveal their account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords and other identifying information.
• If you get an inquiry from a company or government agency seeking personal information, don’t provide it. Instead, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to find out if the entity that supposedly called you actually needs the requested information from you.
• Please let the FCC know about ID spoofers by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC or filing a complaint at: www.fcc.gov/complaints.