Yesterday, I called Verizon’s Unlawful Call Center to report my incident with Caller ID Spoofing.  The woman I spoke with there knew exactly what I was talking about, but was amazed that this technology and service is now being sold on ebay and other websites.  She said it used to be used only by telemarketers in order to hide who they were.  The Call Center was not aware of this new availability.  She said she would share that information with her supervisor and was glad that I called them.

I did tell her that Customer Service had no idea what I was talking about, insisted that it cannot be done, and even suggested that the lady who called me was trying to scam me.  Perhaps it’s time for a memo?  She said, in their defense, that they’re so bogged down with service calls that it’s really better for them to refer situations like mine to the Unlawful Call Center, but that they should at least be made aware of the practice.

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to prevent someone from stealing your telephone ID and using it this way.  Fortunately, my number was apparently randomly chosen and they probably won’t use it for long.  If I get any more phone calls from people (I have not so far) I should tell them to immediately call the Unlawful Call Center so that they can try to trace the call. 

I called the lady who first called me to update her with Verizon’s response and thank her.  She didn’t have to call my number, and really had no idea what would happen when she did.   

I am one unhappy Tresses. 

Late this afternoon, whilst cooking dinner, I received a telephone call.  I didn’t recognize the name on the Caller ID, but the number was local, so I picked it up.

Caller: Hi. I just received a call from someone at this number?

Me: No, you didn’t receive a call from this number.

Caller:  My caller ID listed this number and [my last name].

Me: Really?  I’m standing in my kitchen cooking dinner; I haven’t called anyone.

Caller: [Paraphrasing] It was a recording that said that they were reducing cable rates in the area and that they could reduce my rates by 30%.  They said to press 1 to find out more about this option or press 1 to find out about equipment they were giving away.  I didn’t press anything and it automatically ended the call.  I didn’t recognize your name, but I picked it up because it was a local number.

WHAT THE HECK!?! 

The Caller and I spoke for a few minutes and I got her permission to give her name and number to the phone company if they wanted to contact her about this.  She was friendly and gave me her name before I told her that I had caller ID (which matched the name she gave me).  She is also listed in the phone book, and doesn’t live too far from me. 

I immediately called Verizon and asked if this was possible.  The CSA said that he had never heard of anything like it.  He thinks the Caller was trying to scam me.  I disagreed with him for the reasons stated above.  We continued to talk, and he tried calling the Unlawful Call Center, but they were closed for the day.  He gave me the number to call tomorrow.  He said that in his 13 years in the industry he had never heard of anybody being able to use someone else’s Caller ID.  I did tell him, nicely, that just because he’s never heard of it doesn’t mean it’s not possible.  He did concede that point, but also said that while I was on hold and he was trying to reach the Unlawful Call Center he asked his co-workers and none of them had heard of it, either.

So…I got off the phone with Verizon and hit the internet.  I didn’t find anything under phone scams, but hubby later googled “stolen caller ID” and found articles about Caller ID Spoofing.   Apparently, this is nothing new.  There are companies who sell this technology.  You can find it on ebay!!

Congress is working on making this illegal. 

So tomorrow morning I will give the Verizon Unlawful Call Center a call to report this and inform them that they need to train Verizon employees regarding this practice that the FCC has been investigating since the summer of 2005.  Way to be up on things, Verizon.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Even if you think you recognize the name/number on your caller ID, and even if it’s a company you do business with, do NOT give out any personal information to anyone who calls you.   

Gotta love technology.