Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Getting calls from numbers with the same first 6 digits – Caller ID Spoofing

For a while now I have been getting calls from numbers that are very similar to mine in that they have the same area code and even have the next 3 numbers the same. I usually do not answer calls I am not expecting from numbers I do not recognize so I just let them ring.

I noticed I kept getting calls like this but the last 4 digits were always different which I thought was odd. Was it a telemarketer company calling from several different phones in the same call center? Maybe a big business that uses a lot of different phone lines? I even overheard a neighbor talking about how they were having the same issue with similar numbers calling them.

I decided to do a little research and it turns out many others are experiencing the same thing and it is something called Caller ID Spoofing. This is where the caller is faking a number that is similar to yours but they are actually calling from a different number. I'm not exactly sure how it works, but apparently there are ways to enable the caller to make it look like they are calling from a different number.

This may be done to make the recipient think it is a local call so they are more likely to answer. Reports are that it is done by telemarketers or people trying to scam you into giving out your personal information, or they are robo-calls calling a bunch of numbers to see who will pick up.

The FCC has an article here with more information about Caller ID Spoofing. They say it is illegal if the company has intent to defraud or cause harm, but if no harm is intended then it is ok. They also have an option to report spoofing by filing a claim on their website. As far as I know there is not really a way to stop it other than just not picking up if you receive a call like this.

It's a shame there is not more regulation or efforts being made to stop this sort of thing. With the ability to change how a number is displayed, it makes it so you really can't trust any number that calls you. Because of this, we must be very careful about answering unknown calls especially if they ask for personal information. If you are unsure about the authenticity of a caller, end the call and call back at the number you know is correct.

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