What is New York Phone Spoofing?
Phone or caller identification spoofing is when a caller intentionally falsifies the information that appears on the receiver’s caller ID display. This means that the caller can make his phone call look like it is coming from anywhere in the world.
The increasing popularity of internet telephone technology has increased the instances of caller ID spoofing. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology makes it easy for everyday people to spoof their numbers. Some VoIP providers allow their subscribers to input the numbers they want to appear on caller ID displays. They do this when they are configuring the system, so their chosen number is displayed instead of the number being retrieved from the registered database.
Caller ID spoofing is considered illegal in the United States when used to harass, defraud, and unlawfully obtain information and valuables. Some exemptions are made for law enforcement purposes when the police have to disguise their number to contact a suspect. Scammers use spoofing to hide their real phone numbers when they contact their targets. They use a method called neighbor spoofing to make the call seem like it is coming from close to the target. Scammers also copy numbers of organizations that residents are likely to answer and use them when they call. Spoofing numbers aid scammers in committing several types of crimes, including the following:
Scammers spoof their numbers to resemble those of organizations that residents know and trust. These are organizations like law enforcement or the Inland Revenue Service. Scammers impersonate officers of these organizations and attempt to extort money or sensitive information from their targets. One of the more popular phone scams is scammers spoofing their number to look like local police stations and threatening the residents. The residents must pay fines for missing court appearances and outstanding warrants or be arrested.
People sometimes use phone spoofing to harass or play pranks on other residents. They spoof their number to look like a friend’s number and make prank calls or call a friend with the White House phone number. These pranks could be harmless or dangerous, as in the case of the practice of “Swatting.” This is when a prankster uses a spoofed law enforcement number to send a heavily armed police tactical team to another person’s house. This is done to disrupt the resident’s work or business maliciously.
Scammers use ID spoofing to pose as legitimate telemarketers and contact residents. The scammers may use robocalls that employ pre-recorded scripts to make the targets give up sensitive information. The scammers may also speak to the targets live and attempt to get money from the target by offering bogus investments and services. Residents that have been targeted by these forms of call spoofing can file complaints with the Federal Communications Commission.
How Do You Know If Your Number Is Being Spoofed?
You can tell criminals have spoofed your number if you suddenly start receiving calls and texts replying to conversations you are unaware of. A likely reason is fraudsters have stolen your identity for nefarious reasons. To avoid being incriminated, residents should contact the FCC by calling 1-888-CALL FCC (225-5322) or file an online report.
Why is Phone Spoofing Illegal?
Caller ID spoofing is generally considered illegal in America, primarily when used to steal or fraudulently acquire money and information. The federal law that governs caller ID is the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009. This act makes it illegal to knowingly transmit false or wrong caller identification information for criminal intentions. Certain law enforcement situations were exempted from the Act, and callers were still allowed to keep some anonymity by transmitting no caller ID information at all.
Scammers employ phone ID spoofing because it allows them to anonymously reach their potential targets and makes residents more inclined to pick up. Scammers use a technique called neighbor spoofing, which makes their caller ID look like a caller from the same area code as the target. They may also spoof their numbers to look like reputable companies or government agencies residents know and trust as this makes residents more likely to answer.
How Can You Identify and Protect Yourself from Illegal Spoofed Calls?
While identifying and tracking a spoofed phone number is very difficult, some measures can be taken to prevent falling victim to scammers. Some of these are listed below.
- Hang up a phone call if the number seems like a known organization, but the speaker tries to collect confidential information or money. Never give out sensitive information over the phone.
- Numbers from a known organization or business that continuously call and never leave any messages are likely spoofed calls.
- Download and install a call blocking application that will help you block any numbers you identify as a spoofed call.
- Report any experiences with spoofed calls to the Federal Communications Commission by filing a complaint on their website.
- To counter spoofed robocalls, residents can register on the National Do Not Call Register. Legitimate businesses consult this list and do not call it, so if you are registered and still receive robocalls, they are likely from scammers.
Does New York Have Anti-Spoofing Laws?
In 2016 the New York State Senate passed the New York State Senate Bill S-434 to make it illegal to spoof Caller IDs. The Bill reads as follows “It shall be unlawful for any business entity, in connection with any telecommunications or VoIP service to cause any caller identification service to transmit false caller identification information, with the intent to defraud or harass when making a call within the state.”
Under this legislation, businesses caught still using phone spoofing may be made to pay restitution to any victims. The company will also be fined up to $2000 per spoofed call.
The federal anti-spoofing law is the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009. The Act makes it unlawful for any person within America, in connection with any telecommunications service or VoIP service, to make a caller identification service knowingly transmit misleading or false caller identification information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or criminally obtain anything of value. Penalties of between $10,000 to $1,000,000 for each violation of the act can be imposed on any offenders. Exceptions are made for specific law enforcement purposes, and the government and customers are allowed to not transmit any ID at all to retain some anonymity.
The FCC mandated that by June 2021, all originating and terminating voice service providers must implement caller ID authentication using the STIR/SHAKEN protocols. These protocols mark outgoing caller IDs traveling through phone networks as legitimate and verify them again at the destination.
What are Common Phone Scams involving Caller ID Spoofing in New York?
By using caller identification spoofing, scammers increase their odds that residents will respond to their calls and fall prey to their scams. They spoof their numbers to impersonate agencies or organizations whose calls the targets are more likely to answer. Residents who have been targeted by phone spoofing scams can file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Residents may also contact the FCC by calling 1-888-CALL FCC (225-5322). Some of the common phone spoofing scams that occur in New York State are listed below:
- Law enforcement impersonation scams
- Mystery shopper scams
- Telemarketing scams
- Insurance scams
- Banking scam
- Medicare scams
- Charity scams
- Utility bill scams.