Arkansas AG warns of caller ID spoofing

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Updated: June 1, 2018

Courtesy of the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office

(This is the first of a series provided by the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office to inform the public on several varieties of scams)

This is the practice of causing the telephone network to display a number on the recipient’s Caller ID display which is not that of the actual originating station. The term is commonly used to describe situations in which the motivation is considered malicious by the speaker. Just as e-mail spoofing can make it appear that a message came from any e-mail address the sender chooses, Caller ID spoofing can make a call appear to have come from any phone number the caller wishes.

While there are legitimate uses for Caller ID spoofing, here are some uses that are not considered legitimate:

– Voicemail Hacking – Caller ID spoofing can, in some cases, be used to access voicemail boxes with some providers. Many phone providers have taken steps to prevent this from happening on their systems.

– Wire Fraud – scammers have figured out that businesses providing wire transfer services rely on Caller ID to verify that the caller is calling from their home phone numbers. The scammers will call to initiate a wire transfer with the Caller ID of the person they are pretending to be, and will use that person’s credit card or bank account to transfer funds to another account – most often in another country.

– Phone Phishing – phishing scammers are using Caller ID spoofing to gain personal information from victims over the telephone by appearing to be from the victim’s bank or credit card company, etc. Phone phishing is fraud and is illegal.

– Threats – Caller ID spoofing has been used to phone in bomb threats, kidnapping and other threats to law enforcement. Law enforcement takes threats seriously and investigations cost thousands of dollars in resources until the threat is proven to be a hoax.

– Prank Calls – Caller ID spoofing is often used in making prank calls to friends and family. While these calls are often harmless, they can cause alarm to the recipient of the call.

While there is currently no way to block your phone from Caller ID spoofing, here are some common tips to remember when you receive a telephone call:

– Don’t trust anyone. Anyone you do business with already has the information they need on you. They will not call and ask you your social security number or to verify your account number.

– If you receive a call from your bank, credit card company etc., write down the number on the caller ID, hang up and redial their number.

– Don’t assume it is who you think it is, even if the Caller ID indicates it is a relative, your children’s school or the local police department. You may wish to exercise some caution.  For instance, you could hang up and call the number back.