Have you ever got a call from some fancy number or a number that does not exist? For example, say, from 7777777777 or 1234567890 or your own number. If yes then nothing to worry about. Its a simple example of Caller ID Spoofing.
In this article, I’m going to talk about what Caller ID Spoofing is, how it works, what are the legal considerations, who uses it, and how to tackle with it.
What is Caller ID?
First, we want to know what Caller ID means. Caller ID (Caller Identification) is the service which allows the receiver of the call to know the identity of the caller. The recipient’s caller ID display shows the number of the caller along with his/her name if it is saved on the recipient’s device. However, the caller can decide to either show or hide his number to the receiver by changing call settings.
What is Caller ID Spoofing?
Spoofing is the practice of disguising someone by pretending to be someone else. The other person thinks that he is communicating with the intended person. But he is not.
So, “Caller ID Spoofing is a technique to manipulate the caller ID information that is going to display on the receiver’s phone”. The caller decides which number should be displayed on the receiver’s device. The receiver might get a phone call from his friend’s number and the chances are high that he will pick the phone because he will think that the call came from his friend.
How does this technique work?
Caller ID Spoofing can be done using various methods. Some of them are through VoIP and PRI(Primary Rate Interface) lines.
VoIP(Voice over Internet Protocol) is a technology which allows you to make and receive calls over the internet. So you don’t need to use telephone services. Some of the examples that use this technology are Skype call and WhatsApp voice call.
Analog audio signals are converted to digital signals by using ATA(Analog Telephone Adapter) or IP phone. These signals are sent over the internet as data packets and reach the destination. Then they will be converted back to the analogue signals over a PSTN(Public Switched Telephone Network). Finally, your call is received by another VoIP user.
Caller ID Spoofing providers charge their users for PIN(Personal Identification Number). Customers dial the number given to them by the company, the recipient’s number and the number they want to show on the receiver’s phone. The call arrives at the destination with spoofed number hence tricking the receiver. There are several providers such as SpoofCard, Spooftel, Spoofmyphone etc. They give one or two free trials but have to buy their spoofing card to use their services.
Is Call Spoofing legal and who uses it?
It depends on in which country you are using it. In the USA and Canada, it is generally legal as long as you don’t use it for some malicious purposes or to harm or harass someone. However in India, As per the Department of Telecommunications (DOT), using spoofed call service is illegal as per the Indian Telegraph Act, Sec 25(c).
Caller ID Spoofing has been used by Law enforcement, private investigators, collection and spying agencies with some degree of legality. Nowadays, it is often used for making prank calls. But according to Lance James, chief technology officer (CTO) of Secure Science Corp., criminal uses of caller ID spoofing, such as identity theft and vishing (VoIP or voice phishing), have also increased significantly.
Caller ID SPoofing technique is a boon for cybercriminals which helps them in the process of social engineering. They can use it to pretend that he is a trustworthy person and extract sensitive information from the victim.
What to do to protect yourself?
Unfortunately, you cannot stop scammers from calling you. If you block one, hundred others are out there. If you pick up a call of a scammer then don’t give any personal information even if they know a lot about you. In the worst case, if you end up giving information and realize to get scammed, you can report the scammer to the organization which investigates these type of calls and file a report with them.
There are some methods which help you to unmask the actual source of the call. Here is the video of Kevin Mitnick, one of the most notorious hackers of all time, but now computer security consultant, who demonstrated the method to unmask the spoofed call.
You have an idea what Caller ID Spoofing is. Now whenever you get a call from a scammer, you know what to do. Caller ID Spoofing has been the most effective method for scammers. But now you are aware of their tactics and ready to tackle them.