How to Stop Telemarketers From Spoofing Your Number
How It Started
At first it was just 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 ______ ___________.”
I couldn’t understand what was going on. My phone continued to show no calls being made from it. So, I decided to research in order to find out.
My Number Was Being Spoofed
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 is 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 voice mail. This did not help. People were then leaving angry messages on my voice mail 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.
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: “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. And 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.
Can the Phone Company Help?
I then researched 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, 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 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 voice mail 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.
Why I Think It 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 voice mail 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.
It’s also important to note that the number you see on your caller ID when a telemarketer does call may very well be some poor unsuspecting neighbor’s number. Be wary of getting angry at the number as they may not be the source of your problem!
Has your number ever been spoofed by a telemarketing company?
Questions & Answers
© 2018 L C David