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Home Page > Consumer Assistance > Consumer Tips > Tip of the Week

Consumer Tip Sunday, February 5, 2006

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Caller ID Spoofing

A relatively new practice known as Caller ID spoofing has emerged to fool the telephone customer into accepting a call he might not otherwise accept.  Caller ID is a convenient tool telephone customers can subscribe to in order to know who is calling before they answer the telephone.  Caller ID displays the caller's name and telephone number after the first ring so you can decide whether to answer the call.  

The spoofer goes to a Web site which provides the spoofing service for a fee.  They input the number they wish to call and the fake Caller ID information they wish to appear on the recipient's Caller ID device.  The call is then completed displaying the false, or spoofed, Caller ID information.

While Caller ID spoofing has been available for legitimate purposes such as law enforcement for some time, the rise of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service has put the technology within the reach of scammers trying to separate customers from their money.  The scam artist sets up an account and is then able to call consumers and have the caller ID display the telephone number and name of the consumer's local bank, credit union, or other trusted business. Consumer, feeling comfortable that they are seeing their own bank or credit union's name and telephone number, are more likely to divulge their confidential account information which can then be used to steal the consumer's money or make unauthorized charges.

DON'T BE FOOLED.   If you receive a call asking for confidential information such as your Social Security number, credit card or bank account number, or personal identification number (PIN) from ANY company that you do business with, hang up and call back using their published phone number.