Posted by: goalpath | April 14, 2009

Caller ID Fraud Can Empty Your Bank Account

Many of you use your caller id to screen your calls and avoid taking calls from telemarketers or other nuisance callers. I am sure you can’t believe that you survived in the past without such a great tool and time saver. Well, guess what? Now that tool can’t always be trusted. Until recently caller id spoofing required access to some expensive, sophisticated hardware to spoof the caller id and make it appear as if it were coming from another person’s or business’s telephone.

Commercial spoofing services have brought this trick to the masses so that anyone can take advantage of this capability for as little as $10.00 per hour. Not only can someone disguise their caller id, they can also disguise their voice and come across as a young woman, old man, etc. If you think I am making this up, just log on to Google and search “caller id spoofing”. 

So why is this service such a bad thing? Well, lately some crooks have been taking advantage of this service and representing themselves as bank employees or employees of other financial institutions. In the typical scenario, your phone will ring and the caller id will display the name of a bank or other financial institution. The caller will identify themselves as an employee of the bank and tell you that they are checking into some suspicious activity relating to your account. At that point they will ask you to verify some account information such as account number, pin number and even your social security number. Once they have the information they need, they thank you for your assistance and promise to call back and let you know the outcome of their investigation. In reality, they will take that information and use it to purchase items using your account info or even transfer funds to some foreign account.

Florida has passed legislation making caller id spoofing a misdemeanor crime with punishment of up to one year in prison. Idaho and Alaska are considering similar legislation, but have not acted on it yet. The U.S. Senate is also considering legislation that would make the fraudulent use of caller id spoofing illegal. You might ask what is the legitimate use of caller id spoofing? It has been used for companies to do mystery shopper programs and to analyze the telephone etiquette and behavior of operators and customer service representatives at various call centers. So there are some legitimate uses for this service. Lawyers for the spoofing industry have already filed suit against the Florida legislation and it will be up to the courts to decide. 

Bottom line: don’t give out any of your personal account information to any one who calls you. Call your bank or other financial institution to verify any request for information on your account. If you call, you can be sure that you are dealing with a genuine representative of that organization.  

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