If you’ve ever received a call from someone using a fake or borrowed phone number, you’ve been “spoofed.”
“Spoofing” has become an epidemic in the business world and nearly everyone has received these calls on their cell phones. Spoofing is when the caller ID shows a name or number that isn’t truly connected with the caller. In other words, the caller is lying about their identity.
Spoofing can affect any wireless carrier, service type or device. While there is no surefire way to stop receiving these calls this, there are ways to reduce their frequency and be educated about them. Here is a list of steps you can take to maximize your protection:
- Add your cell phone number to the Do Not Call registry https://www.donotcall.gov/
- Block that particular number, either through your device or cellular carrier
- Do not answer calls from unknown numbers. If you accidentally answer a spoofed call or robocall, hang up immediately and do not answer any questions
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), visit https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/ and find the appropriate device and harassment type
- File a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us
- As a last resort, if the number you have is relatively new and not many clients have it, you may want to consider changing it. Even though there is no phone number that is completely safe from spoofed calls, it may decrease the amount of them you get
There are apps available for preventing spoofed or other spam/robocalls. Some carriers have their own apps to prevent unsolicited and spoofed calls as much as possible:
- Verizon Wireless – Call Filter app has spam filters and detection, and the ability to report numbers directly to the carrier. There is a free version and $2.99/month paid version that gives more robust features: https://www.verizonwireless.com/support/call-filter-faqs/
- AT&T Wireless – AT&T Call Protect lets you customize block lists, has spam warnings and filter, and a reverse number lookup. There is a free version and a $3.99/month paid version which offers more in-depth filters and controls: https://about.att.com/sites/cyberaware/ni/blog/caller-id-spoofing
- Sprint – Premium Caller ID only offers a paid version, which detects spam calls, implements spam filters and advises spam risk from callers. You can also set it to automatically block high risk calls. The service is $2.99/month: https://www.att.com/features/security-apps.html#faqs
It’s important to know that even with the most diligent efforts, no app or carrier is currently able to offer 100% spoof protection. It’s incredibly difficult for systems to tell which numbers are legitimate and which are being faked. You can adequately protect yourself by never giving out any personal information unless you absolutely verify the agency, and by not engaging with any automated call system.