Caller ID, revered by persnickety consumers who like to screen their telephone calls, is now being appropriated by identity thieves, says the Chicago Tribune. Such scams are made possible by technology that enables con artists to manipulate the phone number and even the name that shows up on the unsuspecting recipient’s caller ID, allowing them to masquerade as officials of churches, banks and courthouses. Known as “spoofing,” the idea is to persuade consumers to reveal their Social Security numbers or other sensitive information, just phishing fools fools computer users into divulging personal information.
Phishing has been around about three years, and most computer users are aware of the scam. But the use of caller ID as a crime tool is becoming more prevalent, said one expert. In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Truth in Caller ID Act of 2006, which makes it a crime to transmit misleading caller ID information with the intent to defraud or harm. In May, AARP’s monthly bulletin alerted members to the practice. That same month, the Federal Trade Commission filed its first case alleging the transmission of bogus caller ID information against a mortgage loan provider. The Tribune explains the scam.