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In June of last year, Pindrop Security reported that phone fraud (including caller ID spoofing, and other phone scams) — targeting the retail and finance industries — increased by thirty percent in 2014, with over 85 million scams taking place monthly in the country alone. Further, Pindrop found that over 330,000 spoofing complaints were made in the past year — with scammers spoofing financial institutions.

In this article, we’ll be discussing fake caller ID; a popular scamming technique known as caller ID spoofing. This technique can be used to impersonate government agencies, trusted businesses, friends, family members and more. But what is it exactly, how does it work, and what can you do to protect yourself?

Caller ID spoofing and how it works

As previously mentioned, caller ID spoofing is used to effectively fake caller ID, but the “how” is important to know. Basically, due to an exploit in the caller ID system, scammers and pranksters can use specialized hardware and software to make a spoof call. Spoof calling is legally permissible as long as it isn’t used “with intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongly obtain anything of value” (so pranksters are fine) but scammers caught using this system can face fees of up to a whopping ten thousand dollars.

To report suspected spoofing, file a complaint with the FCC and give them as much information as possible.

What you can do to protect yourself

So now you know that people can use a caller ID changer in order to disguise their identities, but what can you do to protect yourself from malicious parties? Here are some good tips.

  • The IRS will NEVER force you to settle a debt immediately or disclose personal information over the phone. If you think you’re having tax troubles, contact them or wait to hear from them through the mail, which is how they usually contact US citizens.
  • Don’t let anyone pressure you into immediate information.
  • Be cautious of giving out personal information, like a social security number. This also applies to maiden names, passwords, email addresses, etc.
  • If the call is from a familiar party/business but you’re suspicious, just hang up and call back. Nobody should ever be forcing you to immediately solve a problem over the phone — just call back the displayed number if you know it’s the right one and see if you were talking to whom you thought you were.
  • Password-lock your voicemail. Failing to do this will allow people access into your voicemail account if it believes they’re calling it from your number.

Those are the main things you should be doing, but there are a few extras, too. Be aware of people saying “You Won!” or threatening legal action if you aren’t speaking to them. These are telltale signs that something is amiss, and it’s important that you’re aware of them.

Conclusion and Extra Steps

People making use of a caller ID changer can be fairly scary. Nobody likes being put into high-pressure situations over the phone, and unfortunately this happens a lot. Even as recently as February 2016, the IRS still has to put out notices against people pulling the classic IRS scam.

To help protect yourself from malicious third parties, consider contacting your phone service/mobile service/VoIP provider and ask if they have a detection system for fraudulent phone numbers, etc. If you live in the United States, register yourself on the FTC’s Do Not Call list to prevent calls from telemarketers and other potentially shady parties.

In today’s information economy, personal information is more important than ever to protect from malicious parties, but also easier than ever to let out there. Pay attention to where you’re putting your email addresses, home address and phone numbers online to avoid problems like these in the future. For more information about fake caller ID, and other related topics, get in touch with companies that offer IT support in Los Angeles today.