How to Stop Telemarketers From Spoofing Your Number
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!
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.
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.
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?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Telemarketers are constantly spoofing my business number which I don't want to change. What else can I do to stop this from happening?
In this case, I would install an app that sends all calls straight to voicemail (if that is possible for your type of business). Is there a way to edit your business greeting to something like this: "Hello, this is Bob with ABC business. If you are a client, please leave a message. If you are receiving unsolicited calls from this number, please know that this is not me but, rather, a telemarketing company that is spoofing my number."
This might help to curb the nasty voicemails from annoyed clients, at the very least.Helpful 51
If my number is being used and people are then blocking does my number then become listed as a suspected spam phone number? I don't want that to happen for when I need to make legitimate calls.
Usually people have to report your number for it to be listed on websites as suspected spam. So if your number is being spoofed, it could be reported by others whether you are asking people to block or not. It may be that they are less likely to report it if they call your number and hear your message about the spoofing problem.Helpful 2
My phone number is tied to my side business. Do you think its possible that business phones are being targeted for spoof?
I honestly think that they use random number generators with a local area code and if it works and is not blocked, they keep using it. I'm in no way a local business, just a person with a cell phone. I have heard of others that are the same. I'm so sorry that this is happening to you, too. It must be even more frustrating when it is tied to your livelihood.Helpful 15
My phone is a landline. I 25-30 calls a day from my number. What can I do?
This is much harder! If you have voicemail, you could leave some variation of the message in the article. That way you could unplug your phone to avoid all the rings and let people get the message for a few days. That's much harder to deal with than a mobile line.Helpful 15
Sometimes I feel that someone else is claiming my cell number when I get a text and they think someone named Johnny obviously owns my cell number and my name isn’t Johnny, (I am a woman named Crystal) and I have been blocking their number 24/7. What should I do for my protection from this spoofed number?
It does sound like there might have been a mix-up. It could be something as simple as Johnny misprinting his number on a poster or business card. I think what you are doing sounds like a good idea. Either block the number or install an app that sends an automated message to those that are not in your phone's contact list.Helpful 13
© 2018 L C David