– Spoofed Phone Number –
Getting calls from a spoof phone number can threaten and put someone in fear. Spoofing, often called “caller ID spoofing,” disguises a person’s true identity. Text messages, e-mail, phone calls, and other forms of electronic communication can all be spoofed. If you need to know what to do if a number is spoofed, please read on.
What is Caller ID Spoofing?
Phone spoofing is when the person disguises the phone number they are calling or texting from by altering their caller ID.
It is a common practice among scammers to get you on the phone by utilizing a fake number.
Most people will answer because it’s often hard for somebody to resist answering a call from an unknown number.
How to Tell If a Phone Number Is Spoofed
While there’s no completely accurate way to detect a spoofed number, there are several techniques that can help you get a fairly good idea about what’s going on and may help you catch a spoofer or scammer in their tracks.
1. Google the Phone Number
Doing a basic web search for the number that called you and cross-referencing it to who the caller says they can be a quick way to detect a scammer.
While this won’t help if they claim to be from a company and are spoofing the company’s number, it can catch people who are spoofing local numbers while claiming to be someone else.
This scam strategy is referred to as neighbor spoofing.
2. Call the Number that’s calling you
While you have the person on the line, call the number on another phone. If the line’s engaged, then this may be proof that they are in fact calling from the number they say they are.
3. Call the Company and Confirm
If the caller claims to be from a company or organization, look up the official contact number for them and call them to confirm the existence of the person who called you and their claims.
4. Use an App
There are a variety of apps for iPhone and Android smartphones, such as Truecaller, that can alert you to call from numbers that are frequently used by phone scammers.
Since those behind phone scams often use spoofing when making calls, this can be an effective, but not fool-proof, way of seeing when a spoofed call is coming in.
Misuse of Spoofing
Below are some potential ways that abusers and perpetrators misuse spoofing:
1. Hiding Identity
Abusers may misuse spoofing to make it harder to prove abusive behavior or to make it easier to gain access when the victim is trying to avoid contact. Some services allow the user to change how their voice sounds or to mimic specific numbers to pretend to be somebody the survivor may communicate with.
2. Getting Personal Information
An abusive person may misuse spoofing to contact someone the survivor knows in order to trick them into disclosing the survivor’s location, schedule, or other sensitive information.
3. Harassing, Intimidating, By-Passing Safety Planning Strategies
Spoofing can also show a trusted contact name or number, to trick survivors into viewing or accepting abusive communication from their abuser.
What to Do When You Get a Spoofed Phone Call
Because it can be almost impossible to discover who’s behind a spoofed call, there are several precautions you need to take when getting one.
- Avoid sharing personal or financial information. Spoofing is frequently used by phone scammers who try to steal your data. Legit companies will rarely ask for bank account or credit card numbers or your Social Security number.
- Don’t send money to spoof callers. You shouldn’t send money to anyone that calls you on the phone. If someone says you owe money, hang up and dial the company’s official contact number to confirm.
- Block repeat callers. If a number continues to call you, block it.
- Don’t reply to texts. Replying to suspicious texts, even if they prompt you to reply with a word or number to opt-out of future texts, can cause getting even more scam calls and messages. Simply delete the message and block the spoofed number.
- Report the number. If you suspect the phone number is being spoofed for illegal or suspicious reasons, you can report it to the FTC and other organizations for investigation.
How to Stop Phone Spoofing
Even FCC’s commissioners are growing incensed with robocalls. The FCC announced they will act this year if carriers don’t do enough to fight robocalls. If you get spoof calls, there are a few things you can stop them from coming in.
- Block the numbers; this stops the same scammers from calling from the specific numbers you blocked. However, they can call again using a different number.
- Look into call-blocking services that block VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) calls and texts. These services prevent scammers from using a spoofed number to call you.
How to Uncover a Spoofed Number
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to uncover a spoofed number as the technology makes it too easy for people to do without leaving a trail.
However, it may be possible to track down a spoofer by convincing a phone carrier and law enforcement to begin an investigation.
If you are talking to someone who’s using phone spoofing for legitimate business reasons, you are completely in your right to ask them if the number showing in the caller ID is in fact, the number they’re calling from.
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