Previously used by detectives and private investigators to hide their identities in an attempt to gather information, call spoofing is a tactic employed by callers who wish to hide their true identities, where people wear masks and make believe they are business owners, police officers, and charitable organizations.
By impersonating the person whose name shows up on the recipient's Caller ID, spoofers can reach their targets by tricking the recipient with an invalid caller ID.
Spoof calling cards were available everywhere when this post was originally published on February 16, 2009. Various companies offer low rates and a variety of services to go along with the spoof card. All spoofers have to do is enter the phone number they wish to reach along with the fake phone number they wish to be displayed, and voila! They have connected instantly with their target.
Not only can a spoofer display a completely fraudulent phone number on the recipient's Caller ID, he can also record his calls and change his voice.
Going by such names as SpoofCard, PhoneGangster, and StealthRecorderCard, among others, these businesses offer calling cards and incentives for referring more people to them.
Like IP spoofing where interlopers gather material for malicious attacks on clueless victims through the Internet, call spoofing attacks people in their homes through their phones.
People have been misled into believing they can trust their caller ID, but suddenly become victims of fraud when the caller ID displays the name and phone number of a relative, friend, or legitimate business that is in fact a scammer promoting a fraudulent business with a sinister scheme.
Sold as being "fun," these mischievous little cards can also be deadly. Imagine a little old lady accepting a call from the local church or police department asking for donations. The spoofer shows up at her door to collect the money. The little old lady donates an enormous amount of money, thinking she is giving it to a worthy cause.
The spoofer is actually a criminal who has the law on his or her side. Spoof calling and spoof cards are legal (apparently still in 2014, because you can still get them) and they can become a sacrifice of good will in the support of greed.
As in all scamming problems, solutions are inevitable. Sources such as TrustedID and TrustID offer reliable validation of online certificates and Caller ID protection for victims who might otherwise become casualties.
Perhaps the best protection comes from meeting people in person to validate their authenticity. If the little old lady mentioned previously wanted to donate to her church, she should visit her church. If she wanted to give to her local police department, she should appear in person. Trust should be earned, not automatically expected.
Relying on ever changing electronics in light of today's increase in the production of gadgets might be a foolish investment in security. Spoofs are supposed to be exaggerated and imitative works that result in comedic effects. Like phone calls of old (is your refrigerator running - you better run out and catch it), spoof calling is just "Child's Play." But if you become its intended victim, as the tagline in the 1988 movie about the Chuckie doll relates, "You'll wish it was only make-believe."