More and more frequently, caller ID is being used by organized (and maybe some not so organized) criminals to commit fraud.
Last month, spoofing caller ID was reported to be used as a tool by an international credit card fraud ring that was broken up by the NYPD and the Queens District Attorney's office. The ring was using an easily purchased portable spoofing tool, known as a Spoof Card. Spoof Cards can be bought by anyone who has the money to buy them, right over the Internet! Besides spoofing a number, the cards can be used to disguise a person's voice and gender.
The ring, which was described as stretching from New York to Nigeria, obtained cards and activated them using a number they spoofed as legitimately belonging to the intended recipient of the card. Please note, most banks require you to activate a card from a known number when you receive it in the mail. I wonder how many of these same banks are using caller ID spoofing technology in their collections departments.
While the methods used by this group included counterfeiting, mail theft, taking over accounts and fraud applications to get the cards, using a Spoof Card was obviously a pretty successful tool used in furthering the fraud scheme. The victims were from all over North America and the cards were used worldwide. According to the authorities, the financial impact of this activity was estimated at $12 million in the past year alone.
While devices like Spoof Card are an issue, the problem doesn't stop there. Semi-legitimate (?) marketing firms, such as Voice Touch, Inc. and Network Foundations LLC – ones that the FTC shut down last month – were using robocalls with spoofed caller IDs. Of course, there were a lot of complaints that these warranties they were selling (provided by Transcontinental Warranty, Inc.) were virtually useless if you tried to use them, too.
Spoofing caller ID has led to a rash of vishing (phishing by telephone scams), also. Last year in November, I wrote about a call I was getting offering to lower my interest rate. The calls in question were robo-generated and the intent was to get you give up your credit card numbers to a scammer. As of this month, I received another one of these calls. Besides this particular scam, there have been numerous reports of financial institutions having their telephone numbers spoofed in vishing schemes.