How to Stop Telemarketers From Spoofing Your Number

Updated on September 14, 2018
LCDWriter profile image

Laura is an freelance writer living in Florida. She has a Master's degree in English.

You can fight back if your number is being spoofed.
You can fight back if your number is being spoofed. | Source

My Number Was Being Spoofed

At first, I was just getting a few calls every few days. Sometimes it was random texts asking me if I called, or why I called. I checked my cell phone log to make sure that I had not accidentally sent out any calls. The activity on my phone only showed the calls and texts that I had sent. So, I just figured it was a mistake and went on.

Then the calls started to get more frequent. People began to leave voicemails. “Why did you call my number?” “Stop calling me!” “You are a ______ ___________.”

It turns out that my phone number was the victim of a telemarketing spoof. A company was using my number with a local area code to call other people in my same area code. The idea is that people are more likely to respond if they see an unknown local number versus an out-of-state or 800 number. I have not been able to find out what company was doing it or what product or service they were trying to sell.

All I knew was that my phone was now being held hostage by this company. Calls were coming in every few minutes from angry people wondering why I called them. I would hit reject on my phone and let it go to voicemail. This did not help. People were then leaving angry messages on my voicemail along with curse-laden threats if I didn’t stop calling them. I was shaking and upset and wanted it to stop. So, I decided to do some more research.

What Is Telephone Spoofing?

Telephone spoofing, also known as caller ID spoofing or neighbor spoofing, is basically the act of making a phone call appear as if it is coming from a different number on a caller ID. The reasons for doing this can range from simple pranks to elaborate scams. There are various methods to this, such as configuring the settings of a VoIP provider. There is easily available technology that allows your phone calls to appear as if they are coming from another number.

How Do I Stop Someone From Spoofing My Number?

The reality is that there is no real way to protect your phone number from getting spoofed. Numbers are selected at random, so it's not like you can be specifically targeted. The only real immediate action you can take is to change your number. However this is obviously a huge hassle and many people have so much of their life tied to that particular number. Plus it doesn't stop the telemarketer from just using your new number at some point.

Can the Phone Company Help?

I did some research to see if there was a way to get help from my service provider. Though I did not call the company directly, I read multiple forums online and official help pages that said the only way to stop unwanted calls was to change my number.

Like many of us, I’ve had my number for a while. I use it for doctor’s offices, for work, and to get reminders. I did not want to change my number. I knew that I was going to have to come up with a solution on my own.

How I Stopped the Spoofing

By this point, I was getting calls and text messages every few minutes during the afternoon hours. I started responding back to the text messages. I left a simple message: “I did not call you. My number is being spoofed by a telemarketing company. Sorry. Please block my number.”

But it quickly grew tiresome and time-consuming to keep sending that text message over and over, and it didn’t do anything about the calls that were still going to my voicemail. My phone was still receiving calls every few minutes.

I then recorded a simple and clear voice mail: “If you are calling because you received a call from this number, please know that a telemarketing company is spoofing my personal number without my consent. Please block my number so that the company will stop using it. Thanks.”

I also installed an app on my phone to filter calls. The app I chose was Should I Answer. This phone app has many different settings for filtering unknown calls. I chose to filter all calls that were not in my contact list.

When anyone called while the app was active, they would be sent straight to voicemail where they would hear my message about the current issue. The app will also keep a record of the calls that it blocks. However, no calls except your contacts will ring through to your phone. I was so happy to have my phone back. I could pick it up without seeing a notification for twenty missed calls.

On the first day, the app filtered and blocked over 50 calls. All of those calls would have been sent to my voice mail instead. Hopefully, at least a portion of those listened to my message and heeded my advice.

On the second day, there were around 40 calls. On the third day, it was in the teens. As of today, almost a week later, I’ve had no calls to my phone from unknown numbers.

Steps to Stop Telemarketer Spoofing!

Steps
Explanations
Change Your Voicemail
Let your unknown calls go to voicemail. Explain in a simple message what is happening to you and suggest that if the caller is receiving telemarketing calls from your number that they block you. This will keep the telemarketing company from calling that user back and begin to make your number less desirable.
Use an App to Block Unknown Numbers
Using an app to block incoming calls from anyone not in my contact list really decreased my stress level. If the app doesn't recognize the number it will send it straight to your voicemail where they will hear the message.
Wait It Out
This will not work overnight but it will, in the long run make your number less desirable for spoofing. If the telemarketer is continuously blocked while using your number, they'll move on to some other poor soul.
Spoofing someone else's number is not technically illegal.
Spoofing someone else's number is not technically illegal. | Source

Isn’t It Illegal to Spoof Someone Else’s Number?

It turns out that spoofing a number that is not your own is not technically illegal. According to the FCC website and Truth in Caller ID Act, "FCC rules prohibit any person or entity from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value.”

But with this law, if there is no intent to harm, in other words, if it is a legitimate business, you can use other numbers. Phone spoofing is legal in cases such as a business displaying their toll-free call-back number or a doctor using their mobile phone and having their office number appear. Even if the intent is to harm or defraud, some of the call centers originate from outside the United States, so they are very hard to regulate or shut down.

What to Do If You Receive Spoofed Calls

It's also important to remember that the annoying telemarketing calls you are receiving may NOT be from the number that's listed on your phone. Before you call that number back angrily, know that it might be your neighbor's number.

If you receive what you suspect to be a spoofed telemarketing number:

  • Try to avoid answering unfamiliar numbers, even if they are from your area.
  • If you do answer a call and it is obviously a spam call (they are often offers to reduce credit card payments or offer prizes), do not respond to them and hang up. Do not answer any questions, especially yes or no questions.
  • Do not give out any personal information such as addresses or Social Security numbers. No legitimate business or government agency will contact you to collect this information. Be suspicious if you are pressured to immediately give any info.
  • Immediately hang up if someone claims they represent a government agency or company. They will usually attempt to contact you via the mail rather than call you. You can call an organization directly to inquire if they did attempt to call you.

By stopping the calls from angry people, I was stopping the stress as well.
By stopping the calls from angry people, I was stopping the stress as well. | Source

Why I Think My Solution Worked

The telemarketers were calling the same people several times a day and for multiple days in a row. I know this based on the voicemail messages I was receiving and based on the days and times of the numbers trying to call me back. My hope was that if enough people blocked my number, and this was then conveyed to the telemarketing company, that they would find my number not a good one to use and move on. While I’m sorry that some other poor soul may now have to deal with this, I’m happy to get a break from it.

I’m writing this in the hopes that others can start fighting back against this. If your phone is being taken over by a telemarketing spoof, I encourage you to fight back.

I found that people were very sympathetic once they found out what happened. People sometimes left me voice mails, but instead of anger, they were expressing concern and sympathy for the situation I was in. Some even said that they had the same thing happen to them and they know just how stressful it can be.

Best Solution for Now

Until there is a better solution out there, this is what worked for me and stopped the spoofing of my number.

I know that they may still try again with my number. I plan to leave all of my safeguards in place for now. I hope that if you are reading this and are having your own battle with your number being spoofed, that you find a solution.

Has your number ever been spoofed by a telemarketing company?

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Questions & Answers

© 2018 L C David

Comments

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    • LCDWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      L C David 

      3 days ago from Florida

      You don't have to change your number. Try the steps I mentioned above including getting a call blocker (at least temporarily). When you're not an easy number for the telemarketers to spoof, they will stop using it.

    • profile image

      Amy 

      11 days ago

      I am receiving calls daily about me calling them-which I am not. Boost Mobile was useless in helping. Why should I have to change my number-so frustrating!!

    • profile image

      Hulaberry72 

      13 days ago

      Thank you so much for this post. 9/4/18 invaluable information, I was loosing my mind.

    • profile image

      Krys 

      2 weeks ago

      I read your article due to my phone currently being spoofed. Your solution was genius. However, sadly it does not work that way completely. I worked in a call center. There are usually three calling methods: calling from the corporate number, calling from the area code the corporation is located, and calling from the persons local area number. Usually they call “hot (new) leads” multiple times within the first week. After that, they go into the older pile which are rarely touched unless they are assigned to try to contact again when there’s no luck with the newer leads. But the app will definitely keep them from getting directly to you. But we have no idea what number were using when we use the “local” option. So rather they block you or not, the company will still continue to use whatever number the generator assigns.

    • profile image

      Dave 

      2 weeks ago

      Thanks for the solution. This recently started happening to me and has been getting worse. I'm glad google led me to your solution now before it escalates to 50+ calls a day. Right now it's at about 20, which is still ridiculous. I didn't even know this was a thing, and I question why. My name was on my voicemail. Now angry people know who I am. Frustrating.

    • profile image

      ellie 

      3 weeks ago

      apparently my home phone keeps getting spoofed saying that 800-460-6625 is placing a call and the phone is "in use". I have been trying to track down the number. All I get when I call is a fax like sound. Some people have said it's their pacemaker transmitter checking. I called my doctor's pacemaker dept and they checked with the manufacturer of my pacemaker. Neither knew anything about it and they don't recognize the number. It happens several times a day. there's gotta be a way to stop it but I haven't figured it out. No one calls me to ask why I called so I don't have that problem. If anyone knows how to fix it please let me know.

    • profile image

      G pundt 

      7 weeks ago

      Problem is it's my landline that they are spoofing. I cannot use an app

    • LCDWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      L C David 

      5 months ago from Florida

      I was also very surprised that it was mostly legal. It was very stressful for me and I was so upset thinking I was going to have to change my number and thinking of the dozens of places that have that number as my contact.

      I also had heartbreaking voicemails from people that sounded older or confused as to why I was calling them. One older lady sounded out of breath and apologized that she missed my call. That made me so sad and angry that they were doing that to people like her.

      My understanding is that even if they are spoofing my number for suspicious reasons, it's very hard to trace. It was a very frustrating experience. I don't wish it on anyone.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      5 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      I hope this never happens to me. If it does, I'll be glad that you shared your solution.

      Isn't using someone else's phone number a form of identity theft?

      I found a Wikipedia article "Caller ID Spoofing", but it is too technical to be helpful to me.

      Why the practice is legal in the USA befuddles me. You certainly suffered stress and inconvenience, as did those getting the unwanted, misrepresented calls.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      5 months ago from Central Florida

      Laura, I get calls from spoofed numbers on a daily basis. However, I've not had my number spoofed. At least not yet!

      Thank goodness you were diligent and found a way to put a stop to it.

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