November 15, 2019
One of my daughters recently took a call on her cell phone because the caller ID showed the name of one of her sisters. But when she answered, she was surprised to find that it was a solicitation. Surprise! How’d they do that?
It turns out that everyone can spoof a phone number. As Doug Shadel writes in AARP The Magazine1, “Anyone at all can download an app that lets people lie about their phone number and alter their identity. It’s why you can no longer trust caller ID.” What?
Yes, you can download an app from Apple and Android app stores that will allow you to spoof. You’ll have the ability to enter any phone number you want to appear on the target caller’s ID. But wait; it gets worse.
While doing a presentation on fraud, Shadel was able to call a colleague on stage with him, “have the app reveal a police station number and make myself plausibly sound like a teenage girl as I claimed that I had been arrested and needed immediate bail money (the classic grandparent scam).” The app cost him $8.
Imagine getting a call from a number that says IRS, or Social Security, or any other government agency. How likely would you be to share personal information with the caller, as you probably would have assured yourself that the call was ‘official.’
The advice given by Shadel is the advice we all have to take going forward. “Merely assume that the number showing up on your caller ID is probably not accurate and may, in fact, be linked to a criminal. Yes, it might make you feel a little cynical, but one great way to boost your jolliness is to outsmart a scammer.”
1 Shadel, Doug. “Who’s Calling?.” AARP, October/November 2019, p. 30.
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