Comprehending Phone (Caller ID) Spoofing Guide

Haseeb Awan
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April 5, 2023
Modified On
April 5, 2023

In This Article


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Over the past year, three out of four Americans claimed they had been targeted by phone scammers (caller ID spoofing). Call spoofing or spamming is when a caller sends false information to change the caller ID.

A VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service or an IP phone that uses VoIP to relay calls over the internet is used for most spoofing. When setting up a VoIP account, users usually have the option of having their preferred number or name displayed on the caller ID.

What is spamming?

Spam encompasses but is not limited to unsolicited messages and/or calls, robocalls, Caller ID spoofing, or any form of unwanted communication(s). Spam is intended to reach a large audience (i.e. targeted users) for phishing purposes or other purposes like spreading infectious malware, advertising, etc.

Neighbor spoofing is a form where Robo callers feature a number that looks similar to yours on your caller ID to get you to pick up the phone. This multiplies the chances of entertaining the spammer.

What is Caller ID Spoofing?

You may have an idea of what spamming actually is. However, when it comes to caller ID spoofing, it is the practice to cause the network to indicate that the call has originated from another station than its original station.

This is accompanied by a caller ID on your screen, displaying a regular phone number, but the motivation is deemed malicious or corrupt. Incessant ringing is one pattern that makes you question if you can trust caller ID.

A brief summary

  • When a caller intentionally falsifies the information transmitted to hide the number they're calling from, this is known as caller ID spoofing.
  • To trick you into answering the call, the number displayed on your Caller ID might appear to be from a government entity, a company, or even someone on your contacts list.

The instances when Caller ID Spoofing is legal or illegal:

  • Spoofing is illegal if the caller intends to defraud, damage, or trick you into providing information you wouldn't otherwise provide over the phone.
  • Spoofing is not illegal if no harm is intended or caused. Some individuals, such as law enforcement officers or doctors' offices, may have valid reasons to hide their information.

Did you notice the term: neighbor spoofing?

I hear you! You must be wondering what neighbor spoofing is. Think deeply. The crux is that bad actors want your attention. They want to target you. They want you to answer their call. Will you entertain their motives?

Once you receive a call from an anonymous telephone that resembles the numbers where you reside, this is known as neighbor spoofing. The caller ID would have the same area code as your phone number and also the same prefix (the three numbers after the area code). The evil ones do it hoping you'll mistake it for a "neighbor." You see, a trick? This is such a malicious one, beware!!

PS This is what this blog is about, to educate our readers to take their privacy seriously.

Did you know?

Robocalls have evolved from a minor annoyance to an unavoidable plague. Though some of these calls are legal – for example, a candidate campaigning for office, a charity asking for a donation, or a school notifying parents and students about campus closures – many are not, and some are outright Ponzi schemes.

Unnecessary robocalls are the most common customer complaints to the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.

Enough with the terms; what is their motive?

Notice the pattern. The caller ID appears to be coming out of your own numbers, known as reflection spoofing. Once again, it's a crook attempting to get you to pick up the call.

People are more likely to answer a call if they know the incoming number (via similar number, area code), so these tricks work. Even if you don't recognize the figure, you'll be less suspicious if it looks familiar.

If you respond, the lousy person will use a compelling argument to threaten or manipulate you into sharing your sensitive passwords, credit card numbers, or other personal data. Trust me, even experts in the field fall for these scams, so there are specific tips for applying when you've been a victim of incessant calling.

What are the consequences of answering these scammers?

These dangers are self-evident. The motives are to trick people so they could possess your personal information, money-related information, or even both. The motives vary person-to-person. The bad guy could impersonate a banker, an authentic charity organization, or authorized individuals distributing phoney prizes.

Senior citizens or older people fall for it as the common aspect of vishing (voice phishing) or smishing (SMS attacks) / phishing (email) attacks trigger them to entertain such calls because of a lack of awareness of the surmounting spoofing/caller ID threat.

An illustration of spoofing

A common scam would entail a call from the IRS. The caller attempts to intimidate the recipient into believing that they owe money in back taxes or that they must immediately hand over confidential financial details.

Another popular scam is phony technical support, in which a caller claims to be from a well-known company, such as Microsoft, and claims an issue with your device requires remote access to resolve.

Getting calls from a colleague's or partner's mobile number when they are present but not calling you. Instead of the calling party's phone number, the Caller ID shows '911 Emergency.'

There's more to come...

There are actual "SMiShing" attacks, or phishing by text message or emails, in which you may receive a message that appears to come from a trustworthy individual or reputed organization that encourages you to click on a provided link.

However, if you do, it can install malware on your laptop or mobile device, sign you up for a premium service or even steal your online account credentials. Horrible, isn't it? It could also lead to a convenient sim swap.

What makes spoofing so popular?

The ease with which digital phone signals can be sent over the network has increased spam and robocalls in recent years. Since robocalls use a computerized autodialer to send pre-recorded messages, advertisers and scam artists may position many more calls than a natural person might, and they frequently use deception techniques, including making the call appear to come from a trusted source.

What should you do if you get spam calls?

This is the summary of the pre-provided information.

  • Don't divulge any private information. To obtain account numbers, SSNs, mother's maiden names, passwords, and other identifying information, identity thieves often pose as representatives of banks, credit card companies, creditors, or government agencies.
  • Terminate the call immediately and dial the phone number specified on the account statement/business or government website (if the request is reasonable).
  • You can report unwanted calls here.
  • Most carriers offer a Do Not Call Registry, it could be costly, but it brings you peace when the risk of spoofing is reduced to an acceptable level. Be vigilant when someone asks you for your private number, as this could lead to a sim swap or open an unwarranted hacks portal. If you are asked to fill out an online form requiring a number, leave it blank on purpose. Do NOT list your number on any social media profile.
  • If you receive a call from an unauthorized number, leave it unattended.
  • Remember to read the privacy policy on any service you sign up for. This will ensure that your contact information is not sold. One of the USPs of Efani is that it never sells your information to third parties.
  • While entering online competitions and sweepstakes, you should be mindful to avoid the provision of any sensitive information to other businesses. You could open up a risk of hacks as these companies sell your information to other companies. Be wary of it!
  • Keep up with the latest schemes, so you recognize what to avoid, and set up mobile protection on your devices to protect yourself from malware and relatable threats.

The belligerent hacker

Scammers that use robocalling technology can be diligent, looking for new ways to get their calls through ever-evolving blocking solutions.

Callers often attempt to hide their identity while using a mobile number they are not approved to use, like that of the number of a government agency or a legitimate company with which you might have a business relationship or a phone number that you are not familiar with.

As stated above, the number will resemble (because it will contain your area code creating an impression as if it is from your neighbor or your friend). In this way, they hope to get you to pick up the phone while avoiding technology that might otherwise block the caller's actual mobile number.

NOTE: Do not try to outwit the ominous person by deliberately providing false details. Simply hang up. Do not contact the company back, any other number they send you, or any numbers (or ties in texts) you are sent.

FYI or ICYMI: In the telecommunication sector, caller ID spoofing is prevalent. This issue affects landline, wireless, and IP-based telephone service providers alike. This isn't a problem exclusive to one carrier.

The learning outcomes from this article

Is it okay to pick up the phone nowadays? The quick answer is no. It's most likely a robocall.

They also say they're calling from the Social Security Administration or the IRS. (They aren't; either service will ever harass you or claim compensation immediately over the call.)

They can even call to inform you that your car's warranty is about to expire and that your credit card interest rate may be reduced. Please be sure that you should NOT answer such calls.

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Haseeb Awan
CEO, Efani Secure Mobile

I founded Efani after being Sim Swapped 4 times. I am an experienced CEO with a demonstrated history of working in the crypto and cybersecurity industry. I provide Secure Mobile Service for influential people to protect them against SIM Swaps, eavesdropping, location tracking, and other mobile security threats. I've been covered in New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Hulu, Nasdaq, Netflix, Techcrunch, Coindesk, etc. Contact me at 855-55-EFANI or for a confidential assessment to see if we're the right fit!

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