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TMCNet:  Caller ID Spoofing Scams on Increase

[July 15, 2014]

Caller ID Spoofing Scams on Increase

WASHINGTON --(Business Wire)--

Telephone carriers are reporting an increase in the number of unwanted phone calls from scam artists who have figured out a way to make calls look like they are coming from a customer's own home phone number. Customers who have Caller ID services may be surprised to see their own phone numbers flash on the screen, and out of curiosity pick up the phone - only to find out it is an unwanted sales call or someone attempting to collect personal information to attempt identity theft.

The practice is known as "spoofing," and it is illegal under federal law. Congress enacted the Truth in Caller ID Act in 2010 to address the problem, but unfortunately the practice continues to flourish. "We're hearing a growing number of reports from our members that customers are receiving these intrusive calls utilizing this deceptive method," said Kevin Rupy, USTelecom vice president of law and policy, who tracks problems with illegal robocalls.

"Carriers are deeply concerned about this problem and are educating call centers to help customers who experience these calls," Rupy said. Tools available to assist consumers vary from carrier to carrier, but many offer customers the option of requesting that certain calls be blocked, and some have the capability of sending unwanted calls directly to voicemail. "Our advice is that customers check directly with their carriers to see what's available in their service area," Rupy said.

Consumers can usually see which voice features their carrier may be providing in their service territory by checking the company's websites. Voice features that may be available to consumers from some of the larger carriers include the following:

AT&T (News - Alert) U-verse: http://www.att.cm/esupport/article.jsp?sid=KB401850&cv=814#fbid=_udIV86ewq-
CenturyLink (News - Alert): http://www.centurylink.com/home/phone/
Verizon FiOS (News - Alert) Digital Voice: http://www.verizon.com/home/phone/fiosdigitalvoice/#features; http://www.verizon.com/support/residential/internet/highspeedinternet/general+support/internet+101/questionsone/85477.htm

Tips for Consumers:

There are some options for fighting back against spoofers. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)) is responsible for investigating spoofing, and customers should report incidences by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC or file a complaint at www.fcc.gov/complaints. The FCC website also has additional information concerning spoofing at http://www.fcc.gov/guides/caller-id-and-spoofing.

To avoid unwanted sales calls, consumers can register their phone numbers on the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC (News - Alert)) Do Not Call Registry at https://www.donotcall.gov/. Consumers also can file complaints on the FTC's website or call 1-888-382-1222.

The Better Business Bureau offers these suggestions if a scammer calls your home:

  • Hang up. Don't press any buttons and, if you received a voice mail message, don't call the scammer back. We all like to have the last word, but returning the phone call may just give the con artists information they can use.
  • Don't trust Caller ID. Scammers have technology that lets them display any number or organization name on your screen.
  • Never give out any financial information. If you did not initiate the call, do not provide bank account, credit card or Social Security numbers over the phone unless you have thoroughly done your research and verified the caller.

If you get phone service through Internet or cable, you might want to look into services that screen and block robocalls.

See the USTelecom website for more information on spoofing.

ABOUT USTELECOM

USTelecom is the nation's premier trade association representing service providers and suppliers for the telecom industry. Its diverse member base ranges from large publicly traded communications corporations to small companies and cooperatives - all providing advanced communications services to both urban and rural markets.


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