The number one complaint to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2018 had to do with unwanted telemarketing RoboCalls.  Many years ago, the FCC implemented the DO NOT CALL LIST.  In spite of this, millions of RoboCalls still interrupt the public every year.  This scourge is made possible by modern computers and Voice Over IP (VoIP) technology which allows unscrupulous operators to inexpensively dial thousands of numbers at a time.  The FCC has handed out some major fines to US-based operators, but many of these operators are overseas and enforcement is difficult.

Caller ID Spoofing

Caller ID spoofing is the latest twist in this scourge.  Spoofing occurs when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Robocallers use neighbor spoofing, which displays a phone number similar to your own on your caller ID, to increase the likelihood that you will answer the call. Spoofing is often used as part of an attempt to trick someone into giving away valuable personal information so it can be used in fraudulent activity or sold illegally.

What are the caller ID rules for telemarketers?

FCC rules specifically require that a telemarketer:

  • Transmit or display its telephone number or the telephone number on whose behalf the call is being made, and, if possible, its name or the name of the company for which it is selling products or services.
  • Display a telephone number you can call during regular business hours to ask to no longer be called. This rule applies even to companies that already have an established business relationship with you.

When is spoofing illegal?

Under the Truth in Caller ID Act, FCC rules prohibit anyone from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value. Anyone who is illegally spoofing can face penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation. However, spoofing is not always illegal. There are legitimate, legal uses for spoofing, like when a doctor calls a patient from her personal mobile phone and displays the office number rather than the personal phone number or business displays its toll-free call-back number.

What is blocking or labeling?

If a telephone number is blocked or labeled as a “potential scam” on your caller ID, it is probably the number has been spoofed. Several cellular phone companies and app developers offer call-blocking and labeling services that detect whether a call is likely to be fraudulent based on call patterns, consumer complaints or other means.

FCC rules do not prohibit call blocking or labeling technologies, however, the FCC is very concerned about ensuring that lawful calls are completed and has encouraged providers who block calls to establish a means for a caller whose number is blocked to contact the provider and remedy the problem.

You can legally block the transmission of your phone number when you make calls, so your number will appear as “unknown.” Doing so is not spoofing.

What can you do if your number is being spoofed?

If you get calls from people saying your number is showing up on their caller ID, it’s likely that your number has been spoofed. We suggest first that you do not answer any calls from unknown numbers, but if you do, explain that your telephone number is being spoofed and that you did not actually make any calls. You can also place a message on your voicemail letting callers know that your number is being spoofed. Usually, scammers switch numbers frequently. It is likely that within hours they will no longer be using your number.

How can GlobalPhone help you avoid Robocalls?

GlobalPhone customers are not immune to Robocalls,  but there are a few tools that we offer to slow down the scourge:  

  1. The Gphone customer portal lets our customers turn on blocking for any anonymous calls, i.e. calls that arrive with “anonymous”, “unknown” or have no caller ID.
  2. Customers may block specific callers by entering the numbers to block.  If repeat robocalls from the same unwanted charity or sales scheme keeps calling, this is an easy way to block them
  3. Add an auto-attendant.  Most robocall systems are computers and they know when they hit an auto-attendant or voice-mail system.  They usually just hang up because the systems are not smart enough to respond to the instructions and leave a message or dial an extension.   Placing an auto attendant in front of the call and making the caller choose a selection will eliminate most RoboCalls. This can even be done for residential users, e.g.  “Hello you have reached the Robinson family, press 1 to speak with us or press 2 to leave a voicemail.”