Nearly all of us are familiarized with caller IDs. They are the tools that tell us who is trying to reach us via phone, whether it is our home phone, our office line, or our mobile devices. We use them as filtering resources because there are people with which we are willing to talk, and other than, well… not so much. However, malicious people out there are learning how to fake caller IDs to steal your identity. They may make calls using your name, or worse yet, they can pretend to be another person or entity to trick you into providing bits of data that you will later regret.
You may be surprised to know that the criminals are spoofing their caller IDs with third-party tools and they are doing you to trick users like you into providing sensitive personal or financial information. It is also called “phone phishing,” as it is the same as regular email phishing but through another channel.
Since international markets and the global economy have turned sour in recent years, cybercriminal activity has increased, and they have learned how to fake caller IDs to steal your identity or to perform phone phishing. There is always someone that “bites.”
The primary culprit of the issue is that most people take what the caller ID shows as the absolute truth. For example, the ID can read the name of a bank, and if you happen to be a client there, you may think that it is calling to speak to you. To your surprise, you may not actually talk with a bank agent, but instead, you could be talking to a scammer.
What exactly is caller ID spoofing?
We all know what the caller ID is by now. Caller ID spoofing is the technology that allows people (not all of them are scammers, though!) to change the information forwarded to the user’s caller ID to mask its real IP address and make another name or number appear instead.
In plain English, caller ID spoofing lets people show a different number than that of which the phone that is placing the call. Most tools allow you to display any number you may select. These tools are legal in most places. In the United States, for example, they have only been banned in Florida.
How does caller ID spoofing work?
This is how the caller ID spoofing works:
- Caller ID spoofing is often done with VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services. The “spoofers” open the appropriate app, whether it is mobile or via the web, of the spoofing resource.
- They write the number they intend to call, and then the one they desire to show.
- At the moment of starting the call, it is sent using a VoIP service.
- The VoIP tool modifies the outbound caller ID before connecting the user to its desired number.
How easy is it to set up fake Caller IDs?
It is as easy as hiring a caller ID spoofer device. Magic Jack is an example, and you can find them in department stores at the cost of approximately $35. However, you can see others starting from as little as $10 per hour.
How to protect yourself from the Caller ID users that look to steal your identity
- As always, everything starts with awareness and protection. You need to implement these tips:
- Don’t provide any personal or financial information over the phone unless you are 100% sure you know who is on the other side of the line.
- Stats show that most of the calls you receive show the right caller ID. However, don’t take them all for granted or automatically assume that is always true.
- If you have any suspicions about the caller’s identity, immediately hang up the phone and get in contact with the company that the person claims to work with. Ask the other person if you were talking to another staffer.
- Avoid being hacked if you have a voicemail account by establishing a secure passphrase.
- Don’t assume that all robocalls are legitimate, as they can also be spoofed.
- If you talk with a person that claims to work in Apple or Microsoft, and he or she says that your device has issues, hang up immediately because it is a proven scam.
- If you are in the United States and you provide information to a malicious caller ID spoofer, notify the FCC as soon as you can.
- Your mobile and desktop devices may also need extra protection, privacy, and security. To get those traits, hire a VPN provider.
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VPN stands for Virtual Private Networks. It is an online technology that can offer data privacy and security for all your devices, because it hides your traffic and every bit of information about your connection, including your location, from scammers, hackers, and other cybercriminals.
The best part of VPNs is that they can be configured directly on routers so that every Internet-powered device you own at home or in your office can enjoy the benefits of data privacy and online security.
VPNs are usually provided by online security companies and are found in the form of apps and clients on the web. They use protocols, such as OpenVPN or IKEv2, to create a virtual tunnel for the user’s information to pass through. It will keep all external agents away from the shared data.
In conclusion, you should know that people out there are excelling at learning how to fake caller ID’s to steal your identity. They can make calls at your name, or they can do phone phishing. Being aware of these actions and taking the right measures to prevent them will go a long way in cutting off their success rate.