Faulty Phone Numbers: Don’t Trust Your Caller ID

If you are like millions of other people across the United States, you have a Caller ID box connected to your phone system. The Caller ID box shows you, on its screen, the name and phone number of everyone who calls your home… at least, that’s what you think it does. Consumers are being fooled and stolen from every day, and it’s their Caller ID that’s allowing these crimes to happen. Be smart- don’t trust your Caller ID.

You probably don’t mind paying a little extra to your phone company every month to have Caller ID. It’s convenient to know who’s calling you before you pick up the phone. However, callers who don’t want you to know their number or their names can utilize the “*67 Block”. They simply key in *67 and your phone number, and your Caller ID is rendered useless. The only identification information that comes up on the display is “Private Call” or “Unknown Number”, or a similar message. So, you take a chance if you answer your phone when your Caller ID can’t tell you who’s on the other end of the phone. Even though it’s illegal by Federal law, shady telemarketers use this cover in hopes you’ll answer the phone anyhow. Afterall, if your Caller ID display reads, “ABC Company”, a place you’ve never heard of, or “Private Call”, the latter has the best chances. “Private Call” could be your son, for example, who has an unlisted phone number, calling you. So, you CAN’T always trust your Caller ID.

Fortunately, Caller ID subscribers who were the recipients of these calls were placed on a more-level playing field when the “*82 Block” was put into effect. If you have this block, callers whose phone number doesn’t appear on your display can’t get through. Instead, they receive a voice message informing them that you don’t accept “blocked calls.” So if you don’t want anyone who’s calling your phone number to block their identity, you can force them to reveal it in order to make contact with you. Once they key in *82, and then your phone number, their name and number comes up on your Caller ID display, even if their phone number is unlisted.

At last, the Caller ID subscribers had the advantage. They had a better chance of identifying who was calling their homes than the callers did of disguising their identities. But before you decide it’s okay to trust your Caller ID again, you’d better think again.

The newest problem to crop up is known as “Caller ID Spoofing.” It was once only used by law enforcement agencies. Now, the “bad guys” are utilizing this method of disguising their true identities. In a nutshell, “Caller ID Spoofing” is a method of tricking a Caller ID to display a name and number that it’s programmed to, rather than the real number. And here’s how it works:

There are web sites on the Internet that allow you to freely spoof callers. Anyone can do it! First, you pay a certain price, or buy a type of phone card from them. Then, you call a toll-free number and key in your member PIN. You’ll be asked what phone number you want to call. Then, you’ll be asked what phone number you want the recipient’s Caller ID to display. You can choose any city, in any state, in any country, you want.
Note: The only numbers these spoofing services won’t put through, it seems are phone calls to “911” and toll-free calls.

Finally, the call is put through. When the recipient checks his or her Caller ID display, it will read whatever information the caller wants it to read. Instead of the real information, of course. That’s how thieves are activating stolen credit cards, for example. One of the safety features of a new credit card is that you have to call and activate it from your home phone. That’s not a problem with “Caller ID Spoofing”. Now anyone can activate your new credit card anywhere in the world!

Another trick that’s popular with thieves, is making your Caller ID display box think that someone from a business you deal with is calling you. The phone rings, you check your Caller ID, and the display reads, “Chase Bank,” and a phone number. Chase Bank is YOUR bank, so you pick up the phone. A voice on the other end identifies themselves as being from that certain bank. They then start to talk to you about your accounts. Since the call is from Chase Bank, (or so you think), you freely disclose personal information, and…the rest of the story will be a painful reminder of, “Don’t Trust Your Caller ID!”

Thieves can use Caller ID Spoofing to also make cash transfers from your accounts, and a number of other illegal transactions.

So, the bottom line is, make sure you know who you’re talking to before you give out any type of personal information. And just “Don’t Trust Your Caller ID!” to give you accurate information.

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