September 11, 2019

Is Somebody Using Your Caller ID to Deceive Prospects?

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Your phone rings. You can see that the phone number showing on the display is a local number and so it’s probably okay to answer it. It could be something urgent or somebody you know calling from a local number you simply don’t recognize. To put it simply, you are more likely to answer a call if it looks to be from a legitimate or trusted source.

And that is why caller ID spoofing works so well.

What is Caller ID Spoofing?

Caller ID spoofing involves masking an outgoing caller ID with a number that is different to the real number, making it look as if the number is coming from a location you recognize or a person or business that you trust. What’s more, the practice isn’t illegal unless it is being used for unlawful means such as fraud or wrongfully obtaining something of value.

The reason why it is not illegal is that caller ID masking can be used for legitimate purposes. For example, some businesses might use multiple phone lines but only want to have one number showing when making outgoing calls.

How is Caller ID Spoofing Carried Out?

Because it is legal in most cases, caller ID spoofing is incredibly easy to carry out. There are many online services that offer caller ID spoofing and you only need to provide them with three pieces of information.

3 Pieces of Information Needed for Spoofing

  • The phone number you are calling.
  • The phone number you want to call from.
  • The number you wish to show as the caller ID.

It really is that simple, and what’s more, millions of scams are occurring worldwide every day because it is so simple to do. That is how your caller ID is being used to deceive prospects on calls.

What Are the Risks to Your Business?

One of the biggest problems is that the nation’s phone system has an open architecture. Where once FCC rules dictated that all calls should be completed by AT&T and Verizon, it is now a fairly free market where anybody can set up a spoofing service.

Today, scammers and robocallers are jamming up the system and damaging reputations by hijacking legitimate business lines. A spoofers primary tactic is to obtain a telephone line and preferably one that is already in use. They will then use this to place calls nationwide.

How Can You Protect Your Business

Your business is at risk because you use these phone numbers to call customers who know your company. If you call from a number that is showing as “scam likely” or flagged as spam in their call blocking apps, it can ruin your reputation. Furthermore, carriers could use app data to block your calls no matter what you do.

You can protect your business by frequently monitoring your caller IDs to ensure you are calling from clean numbers.

Caller ID Spoofing in the Real World

One of the most common reasons that scammers use caller ID spoofing is to extract sensitive or valuable information.

Government Entities are Spoofed

For example, in 2015, a tax scam in Pottsville, Pensylvania was exposed that used spoofing to dupe the residents throughout the region. Scammers, claiming to be calling from City Hall, called residents asking them to settle outstanding tax bills. The caller ID displayed the number for City Hall, but of course, City Hall had no involvement in the calls and the scammers were able to extract money and information from unwitting and trusting residents.

Even Large Companies are Spoofed

In another incident, a man in Miami was able to place 96 million (yes, you read that right) robocalls that tricked consumers into listening to vacation promotions from TripAdvisor, Marriott and Hilton, none of which were participating. Instead, the calls were redirected to a foreign call center so that timeshares could be pitched to the unwitting call recipient. The good news is that justice was served and the man was given a $120 million “proposed” fine for illegal spoofing by the FCC.

How to Tell if Your Number is Being Spoofed

As a business with a reputation to uphold and customer data to protect. It can be incredibly stressful to find that your business number has been spoofed and that your customers and prospects are potential targets. Often, you will only know that this has occurred when you start to receive an influx of complaints. Angry customers may demand to know why you keep calling them or you notice a dramatic drop in prospects taking your calls.

The Problem with Caller ID Security

Unfortunately, caller ID is built for convenience, not security. While some carriers offer some level of protection for call spoofing, most have flaws that often mean they become a resource-intensive burden rather than a long-term solution.

You could change your business number, but that will just mean high expense changing your branding and what is to stop your number being spoofed again and again?

Blaming the Carriers

You could also argue that the big network carriers should be responsible for preventing the practice. However, when you consider the legitimate reasons for caller ID spoofing, outlawing the practice would do more harm than good.

The FCC Gets Involved

The FCC is also trying to monitor and control spoofed calls made from international locations. These often get bounced through and around several networks before they reach their intended destination making them incredibly difficult to pinpoint and track through the system.

Protect Your Reputation and Bottom Line

Caller ID reputation software is one of the most effective and efficient means of monitoring your phone numbers to ensure they are only used by your business. With a caller ID reputation solution in place, you will receive a notification when your business numbers are flagged on carrier networks or on major call blocking platforms. This allows you to determine which numbers have been flagged and to alert the FCC the moment a problem is reported.

You can also provide your customers with advice that means they don’t fall victim to such scams. Give them information about your security practices, such as never asking them to divulge their bank details over the phone or asking for their passwords as a security question.

The more you can do to instill trust with your prospects and customers the more likely they are to recognize when your number is being used fraudulently. To find out more about improving your caller ID reputation, get in touch with our team today.

See how Caller ID Reputation® can support your business!