What is Georgia Phone Spoofing?
Caller ID spoofing is the practice of making a phone number other than the calling number appear on a call recipient’s caller ID information display. It is mostly associated with malicious intentions to perpetrate scams. Phone scammers usually use phone spoofing to hide their real identities and trick their targets into believing that they are reputable. Websites that offer reverse phone lookup services can help identify spoofed calls.
Although phone spoofing has been around for years, technological advancements have led to an upsurge in its use. Debt collection agencies, law enforcement, and private investigators have practice phone spoofing at different times in Georgia. With the coming of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, however, anyone can now manipulate caller ID at will for various purposes.
In the United States, phone spoofing is deemed illegal when used for fraudulent acts. The Truth in the Caller ID Act of 2009 prohibits the use of phone spoofing for frauds and other harms. However, there are exemptions to this Act. Law enforcement can generally retain their anonymity by not indicating any caller ID information on outgoing calls, especially for criminal investigations. Violators of this legislation stand the risk of cash penalties. Fraudsters commit different phone scams in Georgia using Caller ID spoofing, some of which include:
In these scams, fraudsters manipulate Caller IDs to show the official numbers of reputable businesses and government agencies. Their goal is to dispel suspicions and convince the called parties to answer their phones. Law enforcement scams, where con artists spoof law enforcement agencies’ phone numbers to cheat Georgians out of money, is an example of these scams.
Some individuals use Caller ID spoofing to prank, execute mischief, or outrightly harass others. They may call unsuspecting individuals and make “The White House” appear on their Caller ID information display. In some instances, prank callers may use spoofed calls to create major disruptions by faking calls of bomb scares to emergency services. Fraudulent individuals who use prank calls to abuse, harass, or threaten other persons violate the Telecommunications Act and risk severe penalties if found guilty.
Scammers use robocalls to obtain Georgians’ sensitive information and rip them off while posing as legitimate telemarketers. They often attempt to trick called parties into pressing a key or speaking with live operators. Their intention is primarily to identify active phone numbers for future scam engagement.
Why Is Phone Spoofing Illegal?
Phone spoofing is illegal in Georgia when used for fraudulent purposes or to cause harm. The Truth in the Caller Act of 2009 corroborates this. The Act prohibits the deliberate falsification of caller ID information for defrauding call recipients. Law enforcement agencies are exempted from this law, however, and are permitted to use phone spoofing in the course of criminal investigations. Phone scammers favor Caller ID spoofing because it makes it challenging for law enforcement to track them. They can also quickly gain their targets' trust by impersonating familiar businesses and government institutions using phone spoofing.
How Do You Know If Your Number Is Being Spoofed?
Your number is possibly being spoofed if you start getting overwhelmed with phone calls and text messages, especially to conversations you did not initiate. When this happens, your number can be used for fraudulent activities. To avoid being incriminated in such a situation, file a report with the FCC online or call 1-888-CALL FCC (225-5322). You can also register a complaint with your local law enforcement.
How Can You Protect Yourself from Illegal Spoofed Calls?
Identifying spoofed phone calls on a surface look is challenging, but phone lookup tools can help you recognize them. Most spoofed calls to Georgians originate overseas. The following actions, however, can help you protect yourself from illegally spoofed phone calls:
- Do not answer calls from unknown numbers. Hang up your phone if you mistakenly do.
- End calls from persons who pretend to be employees of reputable organizations to request sensitive information such as account passwords and PINs. Legitimate organizations will never solicit such over the phone.
- Never be pressured into providing financial information or sending money to anyone over the phone, especially in a call you did not initiate.
- Install call-blocking and reverse phone search applications on your phone to block identified spoofed numbers from future calls.
- Register your number on the National Do Not Call Registry maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to reduce the number of spoofed robocalls coming through your phone.
- Notify the FCC of any spoofed call that you get by filing online complaints with them.
Does Georgia Have Anti-Spoofing Laws?
The Georgia Assembly, in 2008, amended Chapter 5 of Title 10 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. They passed SB 358 to replace the previous chapter. Senator Bill Hamrick sponsored and introduced this bill on January 18, 2008. This legislation prohibits telemarketers from blocking consumers’ caller IDs from identifying their names or phone numbers as contained in Section 10-5B-4(1). It was signed by Governor Sonny Perdue on May 12, 2008, and became public law on July 1, 2009.
The Fair Business Practices Act of 1975 is Georgia’s overarching consumer protection statute. Signed into law on April 10, 1975, it forbids caller ID spoofing by telemarketers under Section 10-1-393.13 (b) (2).
The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009, federal legislation against caller ID spoofing in the United States, is also being adopted in Georgia. It prohibits the use of caller identification services to deliberately transmit misleading or false caller ID information to cause harm or obtain valuables. The law, however, permits residents to maintain their anonymity by not transmitting any caller ID information and is entirely different from Caller ID spoofing. Violations of this law attract penalties that range from $10,000 to $1,000,000. Law enforcement agencies are exempted from this law, especially as it relates to criminal investigations. The FCC directed all telephone service providers (TSPs) to implement STIR/SHAKEN protocols for caller ID authentication on their respective networks. These protocols can certify transmitted phone calls as authentic at their points of initiation and destination. The FCC has mandated all TSPs to implement this technology by June 2021 at the latest.
What are Common Phone Scams involving Caller ID Spoofing in Georgia?
Scammers conceal their identities by using phone spoofing and fool Georgians into answering their phones. They often spoof numbers of familiar local businesses to establish trust with call recipients and then defraud them. Georgians can file complaints of phone spoofing scams with the FTC. They can also report incidences of these scams to the FCC by calling 1-888-CALL FCC (225-5322).
The following are some typical phone spoofing scams that Georgians frequently encounter:
- IRS scams
- Lottery scams
- Credit card scams
- Tech support scams
- Charity scams
- Telemarketing scams