Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

AP reports using false caller ID with the intent of tricking people into revealing personal information or otherwise causing harm would become illegal under legislation that passed the House Wednesday. The legislation would only outlaw the use of spoofing technology when the intent is to deceive and harm the recipient of the call. Legitimate uses of the technology, such as a domestic abuse shelter changing its number to protect an occupant of the shelter, would still be permitted.

Caller ID spoofing is the practice of causing the telephone network to display a number on the recipient’s caller ID display which is not that of the actual originating caller. Similar to e-mail spoofing which can make it appear that a message came from any e-mail address the sender chooses. Caller ID spoofing can make a call appear to have come from any phone number. Most people trust caller ID and are unaware of caller ID spoofing. This is obviously a flawed system ripe for fraud.

Legitimate uses of caller ID spoofing have included:

A domestic abuse shelter changing its number to protect an occupant of the shelter.

Law enforcement to disguising themselves when trying to nab suspects.

Someone is trying to evade child support and caller ID spoofing may be a legitimate tool to find them.

Someone who suspects a cheating spouse may use it to do their own investigations.

Doctors on call wanting to block their number may need to change a caller ID if the client requires a phone number to show when calling.

Nefarious uses of caller ID Spoofing have included:

A crazy woman used the caller ID of a pharmacist to trick a romantic rival into taking a drug used to cause abortions.

Spoofing during political campaigns to mislead voters or get voters angry at a candidate they mistakenly think is calling them, perhaps in the middle of the night.

Criminals are also using caller ID of a bank, credit card company, retailer or other phone number to scam someone into revealing Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers. In New York City police busted an identity theft ring that used caller ID spoofing to steal more than $15 million from 6,000 victims.

Protect your identity.

1. Get a credit freeze and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.

2. Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk. (Disclosures)

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing Scammers and Scambaiters on Fox Boston.

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