What is Wyoming Phone Spoofing?
Phone spoofing occurs when a caller intentionally transmits misleading information to the receiver's caller ID display. In essence, this allows the caller to hide their real identity as well as location. Spoofing allows the caller to hide their real identity by replacing it with another caller ID. In this present day, spoofing is cheap and accessible; therefore, people tend to use it for variants of reasons.
These scammers can make the Caller ID appear as a local area code (neighbor spoofing), government agency, any actual organization, even individual numbers (usually one the receiver is familiar with). Whatever means are used, scammers aim to get personal or financial information from the receiver and steal their money. VoIP makes spoofing easy because it allows callers to choose their phone numbers rather than assign them numbers.
The United States government permits certain law enforcement agencies to spoof their Caller IDs while carrying out their duties. The Wyoming Consumer Reports has discovered that 70% of residents do not answer unrecognizable calls.
Phone spoofing is prohibited in the United States in instances where it is used to aid fraudulent schemes. Phone spoofing has been used to perpetuate several crimes in the US; some of which include:
Scammers sometimes use robocalls with Caller IDs disguised as actual legitimate companies. They attempt to lure the receiver into giving out personal information and purchasing goods and services that most likely fake or non-existent.
In most cases, scammers attempt to impersonate legitimate entities to facilitate their fraudulent schemes, and they use phone spoofing to achieve this. These scammers claim to represent legitimate organizations or government agencies to gain their targets’ trust and make them lose guard, so it will be easy to extort or defraud them. The Internal Revenue Service and the State Police have been impersonated several times as these agencies quickly get state residents’ attention. Wyomingites should get the actual telephone numbers of these organizations from their websites and always call back the real numbers to determine whether these agencies and legitimate organizations indeed contacted them and not spoofed numbers.
Phone spoofing is used to prank individuals, and this can become a form of harassment. These pranks can lead to more harm than was ever envisaged. It could initially be all fun and jokes, but these pranks can escalate and become hazardous, leading to bodily harm or financial ruin.
Scammers sometimes use phone spoofing to get an individual's personal information and location. This way, the scammer can shadow and tail such a person in the bid to extort or defraud.
How Do You Know if Your Number Is Being Spoofed?
At the initial stage, it is not easy to tell if your number is being spoofed. However, when you start receiving multiple calls where callers continue conversations that you never initiated, or you get calls where a caller you have never contacted tells you to stop harassing them or demands to know who you are. Then, there is a high chance that their number is being spoofed. You can record on your voicemail informing callers that your number is spoofed. Organizations also adopt that method as well as informing clients and customers about this on their websites. Once there is a suspected spoofing, contact the FCC by filing a complaint or call them on 1-888-225-5322.
Why is Phone Spoofing Illegal?
In the United States in general and Wyoming specifically, Phone spoofing is used by legitimate organizations, government agencies, pranksters, and fraudsters. The entity using it and what it is being used for determines the legality or otherwise of the act. Fraudsters spoof their Caller ID to reflect these legitimate organizations or government agencies, which tend to mislead, defraud and become a nuisance to the residents.
The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 is the federal law governing Caller ID in the United States. Under this law, it is unlawful for a person to knowingly transmit inaccurate or misleading Caller ID information, especially with the intent to cause harm, obtain anything of value wrongfully or defraud; such acts attract a punishment of fines.
How Can You Identify and Protect Yourself from Illegal Spoofed Calls?
Phone scams are on the rise in the United States, and there is a need to be cautious and be aware of steps to take so as not to fall victim. The fact that scammers take the guise of government agencies, legitimate companies, and local numbers even make it difficult to determine right away if an incoming call is spoofed or not. Therefore, residents need to take specific steps that are mostly preventive to protect themselves. These steps are:
- If you get an inquiry from a person who claims to represent an agency or organization, hang up and directly contact that agency or organization via a verified means to determine the authenticity of the request or inquiry.
- Be cautious if, for any reason, you are being pressured to disclose personal information immediately.
- Install reliable call blocking apps that can effectively use analytics to figure out spoofed calls and personally add numbers that you intend to stop from contacting you.
- In response to unknown calls, personal information such as passwords, social security number, mother's maiden name, etc., should never be disclosed.
- Spoofed calls or suspected spoofed calls should be reported to the FCC by filing a complaint on their website or contacting their toll-free number on 1-888-225-5322.
- To reduce unwanted and unsolicited calls, register on the National Do Not Call Registry and the Wyoming Do-Not-Call list.
Does Wyoming Have Anti-Spoofing Laws?
Wyoming does not have any specific anti-spoofing laws. However, according to the Wyoming Attorney General's office, most telephone solicitors are prohibited from making calls to pager numbers or residential mobile phones enrolled in the Direct Marketing Association under Wyoming’s telephone solicitation statutes’ Telephone Preference Services for over sixty (60) days.
However, there are exemptions to this rule. These include:
- Calls that are made mainly in connection with an existing contract or debt to a person the caller has an established relationship with
- Calls made by a merchant who is making below 250 unsolicited calls per year
- Most calls made by political fundraisers and charities
The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 is the federal act guiding Caller ID usage and implementation. It provides that it is unlawful to knowingly transmit inaccurate and misleading Call ID information in the United States, especially with the intent to cause harm, defraud, or even obtain anything of value. There is a penalty of a fine in the case of a violation, which may not be less than $10,000 for each violation; for each day of a continuing violation, three times the amount; except that for each continuing violation, and the total must not exceed $1,000,000.
Also, a new policy by the FCC mandated service providers to make use of STIR/SHAKEN protocols for the authentication of customers’ caller IDs from June 2021. These protocols will help service providers ascertain that caller IDs are verified and legitimate before they reach a recipient.
What are Common Phone Scams involving Caller ID Spoofing in Wyoming?
Spoofed calls display an altered Caller ID, making residents accept the calls because the number is either local or familiar. These scams take different forms. Some of the common phone spoofing scams in Wyoming are:
- Lottery, Price, sweepstakes scams
- Grandparents scams
- Credit card scams
- Telemarketing scams
- Identity theft/impersonation scams
- IRS scams
- Utility scams
- Government grant scams