The Department of Telecommunications and Cable would like consumers to be aware of Caller ID Spoofing which is the practice of causing a number on the consumer's caller ID display to be different from that of the actual call origination point. In other words, it is now possible to make a telephone call and have that person's caller ID show the call as being received from a number other than the actual number that the call is being made from.

Caller ID Spoofing has been used to commit identity theft since it misleads consumers into believing they are receiving a call from their bank so they will give out their personal and financial information. In addition, credit card fraud is another likely risk since some credit card companies use a person's home telephone number to validate that customer's identity. Spoofing can even be used to change the sound of a person's voice to sound like that of someone who is of the opposite sex. Spoofing has also been linked to calls made by bill collectors, telemarketers, and prank 911 calls. At the very least, this practice misleads people causing them to answer calls they may otherwise not have answered and is becoming a concern for consumers nationwide.

In February of 2008, a Collegeville, Pennsylvania man was arrested for making threatening phone calls to women while having their own home telephone numbers displayed on their caller ID giving the appearance that the call was made inside the house. Massachusetts consumers should be aware that legislation has been proposed which would ban Caller ID Spoofing. However, until this legislation passes, spoofing is not yet illegal, even though many of its uses are. Consumers should be aware of this issue and be ready to protect their personal and financial information at all times.

If you feel that you have been a victim of Caller ID Spoofing you should do two things:

  1. Contact the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") consumer hotline at 1-888-225-5322 or log on to their website to file a complaint.
  2. Contact the Office of the Attorney General by calling 617-727-8400 or log on to their website to file a complaint.~