Caller ID spoofing is the act of distorting the information transmitted to a call recipient's caller ID display, mostly to disguise the caller's identity. Residents and businesses in Hawaii use phone spoofing for many different purposes. Many people believe that Caller ID spoofing is illegal, but this is not entirely true. There are various legitimate reasons to spoof Caller IDs in Hawaii. Some of them are:
- Medical doctors who have reasons to use their phones to call patients from outside their offices use phone spoofing. They often spoof their offices' Caller IDs to avoid lengthened introductions.
- Law enforcement officers practice spoofing often, especially when investigating criminal cases, and have cause to make phone calls from their mobile lines. They do this to conceal their identities and to ensure undue exposure to the criminals under probe.
Phone spoofing used to be expensive, and only a few businesses could afford its costs. However, with technological advancements, it became affordable to all and sundry. Phone users can now spoof Caller IDs from their homes or offices. Some companies offer phone spoofing services online, while there are mobile applications that perform the same function. Scammers favor Caller ID spoofing in their schemes because it allows them to manipulate names and numbers transmitted to their targets' phones as they please. These manipulations help them evade law enforcement and can dupe people for as long as possible. Caller ID spoofing is illegal when its intent is malicious. Illegally spoofed calls are targeted at stealing money and call recipients' valuable information. Using websites that offer reverse phone lookup services to search for incoming call numbers can help residents identify spoofed calls and avoid scams. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urges consumers to report illegal phone spoofing. Unlawful use of phone spoofing in the State of Hawaii include:
Social Security Number Spoofing Scams
Scammers use spoofing to falsify the caller IDs that appear on their targets' phones to impersonate employees of the Social Security Administration (SSA). They do this to convince targeted persons that they are legitimate and then make some demands to defraud them. Social security scammers often request targets' personal and financial information to commit identity and financial thefts.
Law Enforcement Impersonation Scams
These scams are prevalent in Hawaii. Those engaging in it usually spoof local law enforcement agencies' phone numbers and contact their targets with false claims. They may accuse them of not appearing for court dates or tell them there are warrants out for their arrests. Whatever their story is, they often coerce their targets into sending money or disclosing sensitive information by threatening arrest of jail.
Neighbor Spoofing Scams
Fraudsters use neighbor spoofing to increase the likelihood of their targets answering their phones. Neighbor spoofing is a form of phone spoofing that displays the exact number of a call recipient or a similar number. These scams are commonly used to impersonate telecom companies with the hope of getting called parties to reveal their personal information.
Why Is Phone Spoofing Illegal?
Despite being used for various legitimate purposes, phone spoofing can also be unlawful. Spoofing is illegal when its primary aim is to cause harm or defraud a call recipient. The FCC’s Truth in Caller ID Act forbids anyone from transmitting misleading caller ID information to commit fraud.
Phone scammers rely on phone spoofing in perpetrating scams. They falsify Caller IDs when preying on their targets with either live calls or robocalls to earn their trust. Scam callers usually claim to be calling on behalf of the government or say they are with familiar legitimate businesses while spoofing. Phone users now tend to decline incoming calls from numbers they do not recognize, most especially as millions of dollars are being lost to scams yearly. This is the whole essence of legal Caller ID spoofing- to increase fraudsters' chances of getting unsuspecting individuals to answer their phones. Phone scammers who deal in phone spoofing make bogus demands like requesting personal, financial, and credit card information once they start a conversation with their marks. Also, phone scammers frequently employ spoofed robocalls to fish out consumers' active numbers for future contacts. Islanders can prevent scams involving phone spoofing by doing reverse phone number searches on suspicious incoming calls.
How Do You Know If Your Number Is Being Spoofed?
If you start getting calls from different unknown persons who claim they missed your call, it is possible that your number is being spoofed. Similarly, you may begin to receive messages from various unfamiliar numbers whose contents are responses to communications you did not initiate. When this happens, your number is most definitely being used for some fraudulent schemes, and you should report it immediately to your local law enforcement. To avoid inundation and reputational damages, record a voice mail message notifying callers to disregard any previous communication as they were not from you. File a report online with the FCC and your phone company once you realize that your number has been spoofed.
How Can You Protect Yourself from Illegal Spoofed Calls?
Illegally spoofed calls are usually ill-intended, especially for fraudulent activities. You may not be able to say straight away if an incoming call is spoofed. However, applications that offer reverse phone lookup services can help you identify spoofed calls and prevent you from falling victim to scams. You can protect yourself from illegal phone spoofing by taking the following steps:
- Never give out confidential information such as social security numbers, account numbers, PINs, or any identifying details, especially in a call you did not initiate.
- Hang up if you answer a call and realize it is a spoofed robocall that is asking you to press a button to stop getting such calls. If you hit any button as instructed, you will become a potential target for bigger scams.
- Do not respond to any questions in a call from an unknown number, especially if the only option you have is a Yes or No.
- Do not be pressured into sending money or giving up valuable information even if the caller threatens you. Phone scammers who engage in Caller ID spoofing are widely known to employ threats to have their ways with their marks.
- Join the National Do Not Call Registry to avoid spoofed telemarketers' robocalls. Although phone scammers do not have regards for numbers listed on the registry, enrolling your number will help you differentiate legitimate robocalls from illegal ones. Call 1 (888) 382-1222 from your number and follow the prompts once you are all set to join.
- Install call-blocking applications on your cell phone to bar unknown numbers from calling you. You can also talk to your phone company about the call-blocking services they may have.
- File complaints of identified spoofed calls that come through your phone with your local law enforcement or the report online to the FCC.
Does Hawaii Have Anti-Spoofing Laws?
No. Hawaii does not have a state-specific anti-spoofing law, but relevant agencies in the state are always making efforts to protect residents against illegal phone spoofing. The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009, however, prohibits the manipulation of Caller ID information that aims to defraud, cause harm, or unlawfully obtain anything of value. Signed into public law on December 22, 2010, it empowers states to enforce its provisions but with authorized intervention by the FCC. Anyone who intentionally violates this law will, upon conviction, pay fines of not more than $10,000 for each violation. The law recommends a penalty of paying thrice of that amount for each day of a continuing violation.
What are Common Phone Scams involving Caller ID Spoofing in Hawaii?
Reverse phone number lookup applications help in identifying spoofed phone calls and can prevent phone scams to a great extent. Caller ID spoofing, when used in phone scams, is tricky and convincing, leading scam targets to giving up valuable information and money. Residents of Hawaii who are victims of Caller ID spoofing scams can file formal complaints online with the FCC or call 1 (888) 225-5322. The prevalent phone scams that run on phone spoofing in Hawaii include:
- Bank scams
- Telemarketing scams
- Jury duty scams
- Arrest warrant scams
- IRS Scams
- Social security scams
- Grant scams
- Debt relief scams
- Debt collection scams
- Sweepstakes scams
- Tech support scams