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Don’t Trust Your Caller ID

Cassia Beck,

Think your caller ID is trustworthy? It may not be all of the time, but it’s not through any fault of its own. It is an electronic device after all, and as the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out. The device is functioning as it’s supposed to. Problem is, telemarketers are finding ways to trick the system.

According to Sandy Chalmers, a division manager at the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection in Wisconsin, in a warning to consumers issued this summer,

Do not trust your caller ID. And if you pick up the phone and someone asks for your personal information, hang up.

That’s generally good advice anyway, what with all the reports we hear about ID theft and other types of fraud, but regulators in many states are hearing about a rise in what’s often referred to as “caller ID spoofing” or “call laundering.” The Federal Trade Commission prohibits telemarketers from hiding their identities when calling, but they don’t always do what their supposed to. The same applies to debt collectors, whose calls often show up in caller ID’s as random numbers, a series of zeroes, a number that may appear to be local, or even organizations such as “Humane Soc.” Unfortunately, technology that is designed to help consumers, can also be used to foil unsuspecting ones.

Via New York Times

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