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  • Writer's pictureBurton Kelso, Tech Expert

How to Stop Criminals from Spoofing Your Smartphone Number

Telephone spoofing, also known as caller ID spoofing is the act of making a phone call appear as if it is coming from a different number when it shows up on your caller ID. Cyber Criminals use this practice as a way to carry out their various voice and text phishing scams. If you see a local phone number show up on your caller ID crooks know you're probably going to answer. Unfortunately, it is pretty easy to program a phone to show a fake caller ID, but there are ways to protect your smartphone number. Check out these quick and easy tips that will prevent crooks from getting your smartphone number.

The reality is it is not much you can do if you find that a criminal is spoofing your number and it turns out that spoofing a number is not illegal, sort of. The FCC's website and Truth in Caller ID Act, states "FCC rules prohibit any person or entity from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value.” The trick is the part of 'no intent to do harm". If you're a small or solo business, you might choose to have another phone number show up when you call customers. You might want to have an 888 number or another local number to protect your office number ... or your smartphone if you run your business from your mobile device. When criminals spoof, they are obviously trying to cause harm, but these crooks can skirt the law as many of these call centers are outside of the United States. Also, numbers are chosen at random from leaked numbers on the dark web. I know you're also wondering if your phone provider can help, but unfortunately, they can't ... unless you decide to change your number.

How To Stop Spoofing

One of the best ways to stop spoofing is to stop giving out your smartphone number. I'm very selective with whom I share my number. One of the reasons I don't share it is because most people want it to get some free computer advice, but the main reason is to prevent the spoofing of my smartphone number.

In this day and age where criminals a targeting smartphones, another good tip is to use a free calling app. Calling apps allow you to do your own spoofing which will keep your smartphone number private. Apps like Google Voice, TextFree, and WhatsApp allow you to make calls through the app which will display the number you choose with the free calling app as opposed to your smartphone number. If you have a business that uses VOIP, check with your provider to see if there is an app you can use to make business calls without revealing your number. For example, we use Vonage Business for our office phones. We can make calls from the app which means our team members can keep their smartphones private.

If you find your number has been spoofed, you can record a voicemail letting people know that your number has been spoofed. People understand spoofing is widespread and having a voicemail that alerts people to the fact that you've been spoofed, can calm the nerves of people who have been harassed by criminals.

What to Do If You Are Getting Spoofed Calls

Before you call that number back angrily to confront a scammer, take the following steps:, If you receive what you suspect to be a spoofed telemarketing number:

  • Try to avoid answering unfamiliar numbers, even if they are from your area.

  • If you do answer a call and it is obviously a spam call (they are often offers to reduce credit card payments or offer prizes), do not respond to them and hang up. Do not answer any questions, especially yes or no questions.

  • Do not give out any personal information such as addresses or Social Security numbers. No legitimate business or government agency will contact you to collect personal information.

  • Immediately hang up if someone claims they represent a government agency or company. They will usually attempt to contact you via the mail rather than call you. Call an organization directly to inquire if they did attempt to call you.

I hope this blog post helps you fight back against spoofing. If your phone is being taken over by a telemarketing spoof, take action to protect your number. Most people are sympathetic if your number has been spoofed. I'm curious to know if you've had your number spoofed and what you did to reclaim your number.

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