Our progressive technological world is not exempted from unscrupulous telemarketers and scam artists. Almost every phone user has encountered spam or false calls from tricksters, and thinks that we can avoid them easily by just blocking the numbers. However, as technology progresses, so are the tricks and tactics of the scammers.

Caller ID spoofing is one method telemarketers and scammers employ to subtly deceive their victims. Their method is to falsify the information of an incoming call on the receiver’s caller ID display. Answering calls like this will open an opportunity for scammers to steal valuable information from you using their social engineering tactics.

Several phone salespersons have done this trick and they just get better at spoofing as time goes by. It may be difficult to dissolve them, but there are ways to avoid getting scammed. Phone users must learn how to recognize legitimate caller ID from the fake ones. The surest way to do this is by understanding How Scammers Spoof Phone Numbers.

How does phone number spoofing work?

There are many opportunities for scammers to create fake numbers especially through the works of social internet. Since most people know better not to answer calls from 1-8– numbers, numbers with unfamiliar area codes or those numbers that do not display caller ID information (e.g. “unknown”), scam artists work their way through a different method called – “spoofing.”

Through spoofing local phone numbers, the scammers hope to manipulate the recipient rather than decline. Here are some of the variety of methods scammers tend to use.

The Voice over IP (VoIP) technique

The most common technique scammers use to falsify numbers is through VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol. VoIP is an alternative for traditional phone services especially if you have a high speed internet connection. It works much alike through the performance of “IP address” which stands for Internet Protocol address.

It is how computers and smartphones communicate with each other on the internet, allowing users to make and receive calls over the web. With the use of VoIP, it is more convenient to get phone services. However, VoIP services can be prone to spoofing and that’s what we want to prevent.

Scammers take advantage of available open-source VoIP tools or they create an account with a VoIP provider that enables them to change their original number. After configuring the numbers they want to display, scammers can now execute large scale scam calls with any phone number in their database.

Since there are VoIP providers that allow users to set up their own display number, it is possible for scammers to easily replace their caller ID with a different number of their choice after making scam calls. Nevertheless, there are VoIP carriers that intercept users from changing their configuration settings like Skype and Vonage, to prevent spoof calls.

Prepaid Calling Card Method

Some spoofing telemarketers work like a prepaid calling card. Customers will pay upfront for a PIN number to make calls. Then they hack the service provider to obtain the number provided, enter the pin, and the outgoing call number. A bridge is then created to change the caller ID on the recipient’s phone with the spoofed number chosen by the scammer.

Other service providers offer a Web-based platform or mobile app that allows users to make an account, log in, and enter caller ID information with the outgoing number they are calling. Then, the provider will make calls and display the entered information as the caller ID on the recipient. Most companies use this method to send spam messages as well from spoofed numbers.

Recognizing a spoofed phone number

Sadly, there is no accurate way to recognize whether your number has been spoofed by scammers. Uncovering the person behind a spoofed number can only be done by phone carriers or through investigation.

This can be time-consuming and there is no guarantee that you will get the result that you want. Nonetheless, there are strategies you can do to know if you are talking to a scammer or spoofer and how to avoid them.

1. Ask smart questions – If an unknown person calls you and talks about business matters, be sure to ask the right questions. Know the full name of the caller, which company he/she is working for, their personal number or email, location of their company, etc. In this way, you can do research about it to check if it’s real.

2. Do basic research – The quickest way to detect a scammer is to cross-reference whether the caller ID is the same as who the caller says they are. Although, this may not be helpful if the caller disclose that they are spoofing the company’s number for security reasons. Nevertheless, one must be careful in answering an unknown number.

3. Call the company to confirm – If the caller claims to be part of a certain company or organization, contact the official number of the mentioned company and ask for the existence of the caller. Make sure that the contact number is official and legitimately from the company first.