Freeport, Illinois — Odds are you have received the calls as well from a ‘familiar local phone number’ with a ‘familiar caller ID’ only to answer the phone and realize, there’s a telemarketer on the other end trying to sell you something.
Of course, it’s always some amazing offer or the pitch that you’ve won a once in a lifetime prize. At the end of all the stories and behind every reason for their call however, is of course, access to your credit card or bank account. They’ll just need to confirm you are who you say you are and of course, to process the “processing fee” so you can collect your prize.
Telemarketers have creative stories behind why they are calling you and they also have creative ways to get you to answer your phone. One of the latest is called Caller ID Spoofing or Neighbor spoofing.
Did that number look familiar? Was it a local phone number? Did the caller ID ‘appear to be’ from a local business? It’s probably a form of Caller ID or Neighbor spoofing.
This morning one of our favorite local businesses, Auto Repair Specialists, posted a customer alert to all their customers informing them that if they receive a phone call with “ARS” as the caller ID (and find that it is a telemarketer selling something), that it is NOT them.
“Somehow telemarketers are hijacking local phone numbers for their caller ID’s”, they said on their Facebook page. They added that, “…it looks like we are the ones calling”.
Auto Repair Specialists says that one gentlemen had a really rude person trying to sell him insurance. “Believe me, we don’t sell insurance and aren’t rude to our customers”, they added.
Caller ID or Neighbor spoofing is one of the latest strategies of spam callers worldwide, and it is designed to trick you into answering the phone. Neighbor spoofing, otherwise known as NPA-NXX spoofing, is a form of caller ID spoofing used by telemarketers, scammers, and robocallers. Neighbor spoofing uses auto-dialing and VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) services to send unsolicited phone calls with an outgoing Caller ID that closely matches your area code and phone number.
By mimicking their caller ID as closely as possible to the phone number they are placing the call to, spammers can trick more of their targets into answering the phone. This strategy ultimately increases the odds spammers will be successful in stealing from more people over the phone.
According to the website Robokiller, it’s a pretty simple process too.
The spammers use third-party call spoofing technology to call your phone while showing a phone number that appears to be from your specific area code.
This form of spoofing is the 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 / neighbor spoofing allows you to display a phone number different than the actual number from which the call was placed. It works for both phone calls and text messages on your smartphone.
In addition to 3rd party software, other popular ways are 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.
These kinds of spam callers do this in hopes they will trick you into answering because it looks like a phone number you might recognize. Often enough, it works.
The calls also typically happen during the day, so they look precisely like they’re from the same neighborhood and as ‘under normal business hours’ so nothing seems odd about the call.
How can you stop caller ID / neighbor spoofing?
It isn’t easy.
The practice in itself is not illegal the Tribune reports: According to the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009, spoofing and caller ID manipulation is prohibited only if the caller’s intent is to “defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.”
The article also says that spoofing can be used for good intentions, saying it can be used by domestic violence shelters that don’t want their phone number publicly available or easily detectable by abusers. Law enforcement may also use it to collect information. Doctors may respond to a patient’s call with their personal phone and use a spoofing service to make the call appear to come from his or her office.
Reporting Spoofed Calls
If you received a “spoofed” call, you should report it to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission. These agencies have the authority to enforce federal laws that regulate caller ID spoofing, autodialed calls, and interstate fraud perpetrated over the phone.
Another way is to check with your phone service provider on how you can block particular numbers from calling you. This method isn’t a guarantee however as telemarketers, through spoofing, have the ability to create a nearly endless combination of different numbers.
Another way is to put the numbers and names of the places you engage with in your phone and save them. If the number calling you, even though it may look familiar or like a local number, isn’t the same as what you stored it as (despite what caller ID says), don’t answer the phone.
People you know will leave a message. If it’s urgent, they’ll call you and call you and call you to get a hold of you. They’ll also send you a text message. Telemarketers won’t call you repeatedly in a 5 minute time frame urgently trying to reach you. Most of them anyway, won’t text you either.
“We do send texts out before appointments reminding you of an appointment” Auto Repair Specialists says. “We also send texts out when we have diagnosed your vehicle or it is done, or we will leave messages on your home phone about your vehicle if you don’t text.”
If you lost money to a criminal scam, you should report the matter to your local and federal law enforcement officials. These agencies have the authority to investigate criminal acts.
You may contact these agencies as follows:
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
TTY: (888) 835-5322
Federal Trade Commission
Bureau of Consumer Protection
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20580
TTY: (866) 653-4261