Phone Spoofing is the act of disguising a caller's true identity by falsifying the caller details that appear on the recipient's call display. It is also known as Caller ID Spoofing. With Spoofing, callers can deliberately manipulate the names and numbers shown to receivers when they call.
Technological advancement in recent times has made Caller ID Spoofing easier and its cases more frequent. Users no longer need to have an in-depth knowledge of expensive telephone equipment to disguise their caller identity. With Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, subscribers can configure what their call recipients see about them. As part of the configuration, some VoIP providers allow users to set a number different from the original one registered in the database.
Spoofing is illegal in the U.S when it is intended to defraud or harass others or to obtain illegal access to their private information. Fraudsters employ spoofing to impersonate reputable organizations that most residents are likely to respond to when they call. Scammers also use neighbor Spoofing to imitate numbers within a recipient's close environs. Nevertheless, authorized security agencies can spoof their numbers to disguise their real identity to apprehend suspects. In this case, the spoofing is considered legal.
Some fraudulent activities that scammers engage in with the aid of spoofing include:
With Caller ID spoofing, scammers impersonate the identity of some known organizations to defraud people. They pretend to be official representatives from those organizations and manipulate victims to disclose sensitive information or extort money and other resources from them. For example, a scammer can assume the police’s identity to threaten arrests on people who do not yield to their demands. Another popular instance is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) impersonation by fraudsters to unlawfully get people’s sensitive information.
Scammers can spoof robocalls to disguise as reputable telemarketing agencies and manipulate victims into fraudulent activities. With pre-recorded scripts, the victims can be guided via prompts to make certain choices or connect to a supposed live agent. The live agents attempt to offer enticing products and services that are fake to their targets and defraud them in the process.
Phone spoofing can be used to impersonate people's friends, relatives, neighbors, or colleagues for fraudulent purposes. Pranksters also use caller ID spoofing to play different kinds of seemingly harmless or harmful pranks. Also, scammers can spoof a person's relative's number to demand money from them and perpetrate other kinds of deceit. Should you fall victim to these phone spoofing frauds, you may file a complaint through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
How Do You Know If Your Number is Being Spoofed?
If you start getting calls and or texts regarding some communication you did not have beforehand, there is a tendency that your number is spoofed. Such attempts can only be geared towards fraudulent ends. In such cases, residents are advised to contact the FCC by calling 1-888-225-5322 or report the case online to avoid being implicated in a crime you did not commit.
Why is Phone Spoofing Illegal?
In New Mexico, Caller ID Spoofing is considered illegal if the intentions are fraudulent or harmful. In keeping with the Truth in Caller ID Act, any phone spoofing intended to defraud residents or extort valuables from unsuspecting individuals is deemed illegal. There are, however, exceptions for phone spoofing when used for certain legal operations by legitimate agencies.
A common spoofing strategy used by scammers to manipulate their targets is Neighbor Spoofing. With this method, scammers spoof their caller ID to format a caller ID within the same area as the target. They can even make the caller ID look exactly like the recipient's caller details or like one they are familiar with. Residents are advised to beware of these kinds of numbers and avoid them when and where necessary.
How Can You Identify And Protect Yourself From Illegal Spoofed Calls?
Identifying and tracking a spoofed caller ID may be somewhat difficult and technical. Nevertheless, some calculated efforts can be made to minimize the risk of falling victim to phone scammers. Some of these recommended measures are:
- Disconnect from any call if you suspect the caller is trying to disguise as a reputable organization to obtain sensitive personal information. Avoid disclosing sensitive data to callers over the phone.
- Take note of and avoid consistent calls that seem to be from legitimate organizations without a proper formal approach. Prevent subsequent communications with such callers by blocking them.
- Enlist your contact in the Do Not Call List under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to make your number inaccessible to spoofed robocalls.
- If call-blocking functionalities are not available on your phone, download and install applications with such features. They can help detect and block suspected spoofed numbers and save you from being a victim.
- Contact the FCC on 1 (888) 225-5322 or the FTC on 1 (888) 382-1222 if you suspect any spoofing scam activities around you.
Does New Mexico Have Anti Spoofing Laws?
The Trade Practices and Regulations under Chapter 57 of the New Mexico Statutes prohibits phone spoofing from soliciting for sales of goods and services. According to this statute, it is illegal to solicit sales to a person whose contact is enlisted in the National Do-Not-Call List. The FTC manages the Do-Not-Call list. In America, the Truth In Caller ID Act of 2009 is the federal anti-spoofing law guiding spoofing activities.
According to this Act, it is illegal for anyone to collaborate with any VoIP service to falsify caller ID. This applies when the falsification is with the intention of executing fraudulent activities on the target. The penalty for the violation of this Act’s provisions is between $10,000 and $1,000,000. As an exception, users can go anonymous with their calls provided that they do not transmit any Caller ID. Also, legitimate organizations can employ some spoofing technologies for legal actions. For instance, the police department may disguise their caller identity while making contact with a suspect.
The FCC has compelled all voice service providers to implement the STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication protocol by June 2021. The protocol is to verify and authenticate caller IDs over phone calls at the originating and destination ends.
What are Common Phone Scams Involving Caller ID Spoofing in New Mexico?
Employing caller ID Spoofing techniques increases scammers' chances of getting their desired response from their target victims. By impersonating reputable organizations, scammers may manipulate their way into getting sensitive information from unsuspecting individuals. There is also the possibility of extorting money and other valuables from people who fall prey to their fraudulent attempts.
Anyone suspecting a spoofing scam can contact the FCC by either filing a complaint online or via phone call on 1 (888) 225-5322. In New Mexico, Caller ID spoofing has been earmarked for some common scams as listed below:
- Telemarketing fraud
- Medicare scams
- Bank scams
- Lottery scams
- Insurance scams
- IRS scams
- Security Agencies scams