Crafty telemarketers finding ways to fake caller ID

Crafty telemarketers finding ways to fake caller ID

Telemarketers increasingly are disguising their real identities and phone numbers to provoke people to pick up the phone. Soc. may not be the Humane Society. And think the IRS is on the line? Think again.

Caller ID, in other words, is becoming fake ID.

don know who is on the other end of the line, no matter what your caller ID might say, said Sandy Chalmers, a division manager at the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection in Wisconsin.

Starting this summer, she said, the state has been warning consumers: not trust your caller ID. And if you pick up the phone and someone asks for your personal information, hang up. in Wisconsin and many other states are hearing a significant jump in complaints about what is often called ID spoofing or laundering. rise of such tactics has prompted the Federal Trade Commission, which already prohibits telemarketers from masking their identity, to consider new rules to crack down. And last year, the Federal Communications Commission introduced rules to strengthen enforcement against the practice, and law enforcement officials in many states are working on other ways to combat it.

Several federal rules prohibit forms of caller ID spoofing and laundering. Under the Truth in Caller ID Act, passed last year and enforced by the FCC, it is illegal to transmit inaccurate or misleading caller ID information the intent to defraud, filltrustid.com cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value.

Privacy and consumer advocates say caller ID spoofing started on a small scale several years ago, but has spiked recently.

As laws have tightened, technology has made it easier for spoofers to cloak themselves and avoid getting caught.

For instance, law enforcement officials say, it is easy to route a call onto the Internet and back onto the public telephone network, thereby masking the call origin. Companies can also use free software or inexpensive services to have a fictitious name appear on caller ID.

These services are often used for legitimate reasons by companies wanting to identify themselves to callers, but they can also be used to create aliases.

Automated dialing technology, known as robocalling, that lets telemarketers place thousands of calls per second has added to the problem of caller ID spoofing.

The trade commission has received an explosion of complaints about telemarketing and robocalls. In September, it received 140,000 complaints about prerecorded robocalls, more than double the 61,000 complaints in the same month a year ago, the agency said.

In addition, the FTC said Tuesday that it had filed a complaint against a company that the agency said violated its rules prohibiting use of robocalling by telemarketers and masking of caller ID.

The agency said Sonkei Communications sold robocall services to telemarketers that generated tens of thousands of consumer complaints. The telemarketers sold home security systems, credit card services and programs, using caller ID readouts that said Message or Announcement, the FTC said. buy fake ids Sonkei Communications could not be reached for comment.

Law enforcement officials around the country said they were also seeing more fake caller IDs. just grown and grown, said Marguerite Sweeney, the head of telephone privacy enforcement for the Indiana attorney general. She said the state had heard from about 5,000 residents this year complaining about some form of caller ID spoofing.

In North Carolina, officials said they were seeing a big growth in caller ID spoofing from companies promising to consolidate credit card debt and, more recently, marketers selling what they claim are inexpensive medical products to treat diabetes.

When the state tries to trace the numbers, officials say, they wind up following a labyrinth that leads to China, Panama or the Philippines. They have also heard of cases of caller ID reading or the most part, according to consumer advocates, the problem has been relegated to landlines. But they worry it threatens to spread to cellphones if proposed legislation passes that would allow businesses to use robocalls to reach consumers on their cellphones.

Advocates for the legislation, the Mobile Information Call Act, say it is necessary because a growing number of Americans use only cellphones or rarely use landlines anymore. Under the legislation, businesses and nonprofits could reach people on their cellphones to information calls for commercial purposes. General Greg Zoeller of Indiana, who testified before Congress against the legislation, said he worried that the proposed rules threaten to preempt states from prohibiting sales pitches by cellphone. And then, he worries, buy fake ids caller ID on cellphones will be taken over by fake IDs.

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