What is West Virginia Phone Spoofing?
Caller ID spoofing is the act of altering the Caller ID information transmitted to a call recipient. It is a way of concealing one's identity by changing how name and number appear on the Caller ID display of a called party. Spoofed calls are usually untraceable, and it is the reason phone scammers engage heavily in it. However, reverse phone lookup websites can help identify spoofed calls and prevent you from becoming scam victims. Some companies provide spoofing services online, while there are specialized mobile applications for this purpose at relatively cheap costs.
West Virginians practice Caller ID spoofing for many reasons. Some are legitimate, while others are illegal. For instance, phone spoofing at call centers where people make calls on behalf of numerous clients is legitimate. They usually alter Caller ID information to transmit their clients' phone numbers and names accurately. Similarly, doctors often spoof their offices' Caller IDs when calling their patients from personal phone lines. In both instances, Caller ID spoofing leaves call back numbers, allowing called parties to be able to make future inquiries. Phone spoofing that seeks to extort or harm call recipients is deemed illegal. Instances of Caller ID spoofing with malicious intent in West Virginia include:
Phone Call Harassment
People use Caller ID spoofing to harass unsuspecting individuals. Persons with bad intentions may spoof phone numbers of their targets' loved ones to ruin their relationships. The calls will appear as coming from persons who are dear to the call recipients only to insult them when they answer the calls. The called parties then pick a quarrel with the persons whom they know and believe initiated such calls. There are also instances where spoofers deliberately spoof caller IDs in West Virginia to damage the reputations of others for personal gains.
Fraudsters are spoofing bank phone numbers to cheat West Virginians out of their money. This type of spoofing is usually convincing, and many have lost their hard-earned money to it. The callers may say they detected some fraudulent attempts on their targets' accounts and will need some information such as PINs to stop it. The majority of such call recipients end up falling victims. Before the targets realize the nature of the calls, the callers would have stolen money from their accounts.
Spoofing the phone numbers of various government agencies in West Virginia to extort residents and obtain personal information is rampant. Scammers often alter caller IDs and pose as law enforcement agents to get their targets to pay them. Also, they spoof the IRS and SSA phone numbers to call their targets and request sensitive information such as social security numbers. Fraudsters use any information they obtain during such calls to commit financial or identity thefts.
Why Is Phone Spoofing Illegal?
Generally, phone spoofing is not illegal. If it were, American authorities would have banned the technology that allows spoofing. However, some types of spoofing are targeted at causing harm and stealing money or valuables. These are illegal phone spoofing.
Phone spoofing plays a significant role in West Virginia phone scams. Residents tend to decline calls from phone numbers they do not recognize to avoid scams. Phone scammers often spoof the Caller IDs of familiar legitimate entities to deceive their targets and get them to answer their phones. Many phone spoofing scams in the state do not originate from within the United States but from overseas. There are even instances when residents get phone calls from numbers that appear to be theirs. This is called neighbor spoofing. Such phone calls are usually out to steal money and personal information and can be reported online to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Websites that offer reverse phone lookup services can identify spoofed calls and prevent you from falling prey to fraudsters.
How Do You Know If Your Number Is Being Spoofed?
Know that your number is being spoofed once you start getting overwhelming calls and text messages in respect to conversations you did not initiate. These communications will hit your phone from different unknown numbers. Some of the callers may even abuse you when you run out of words to tell them. If you get into such a situation, the best course of action is to report it to your local law enforcement. You can also file a complaint with the FCC to avoid getting incriminated.
How Can You Protect Yourself from Illegal Spoofed Calls?
Caller ID spoofing is often used to trick naive individuals into sharing valuable information or giving away money in fraudulent activities. Even though the government is making a frantic effort to end illegally spoofed calls by imposing new regulations, this menace keeps growing. Hence, residents have a huge role to play in protecting themselves from these calls. Reverse phone number search websites can help identify spoofed calls and prevent you from scams. Take the following steps to protect yourself from illegal phone spoofing:
- Exercise caution when answering calls from unknown numbers, even if the Caller ID information appears to be within your area code.
- End a phone call if you suspect it is a spoofed call. You can always call the number back if it turns out to be someone you know.
- Report every identified spoofed call online to the FCC or call 1 (888) 225-5322. You can also file such complaints with a local law enforcement agency.
- Register your number on the FTC's Do Not Call Registry to avoid getting spoofed robocalls. Do this by dialing 1 (888) 382-1222 from the phone number you intend to put on the registry. Any unsolicited call that you get after 31 days of registration is likely a scam call, spoofed or not.
- Record a new voicemail message to inform callers of the situation if your number is being spoofed. Also, make sure to report it to relevant authorities to avoid getting implicated in a crime you did not commit.
Does West Virginia Have Anti-Spoofing Laws?
Yes. On January 16, 2018, Rep. Gary G.Howell introduced House Bill 4150 to prohibit telemarketers from falsifying their Caller IDs to deceive call recipients. Below is a brief history of the legislation:
- January 16, 2018 - Introduced on the floor of the House by Rep. Gary G. Howell.
- Between January 23 and 25, 2018 - Read three times and amendments made.
- January 26, 2018 - Introduced in the Senate.
- Between March 7 and 9, 2018 - Read three times, amended, and adopted at the Senate.
- March 9, 2018 - Senate requested the House to concur to amendments. The House did and communicated the same to the Senate on March 10, 2018.
- March 10, 2018 - Passed Senate and completed legislative action.
- March 21, 2018 - Bill forwarded to the Governor for approval.
- March 27, 2018 - Bill approved by Governor Jim Justice.
The Bill became law on June 8, 2018. Under this law, residents can file phone spoofing complaints with the Consumer Protection Division of the AGO. They also have a private right of action to recover damages from violators and civil penalties of up to $3,000 for each violation. The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2019 at the federal level also forbids misrepresentation of Caller IDs to cause harm and defraud call recipients.
What are Common Phone Scams involving Caller ID Spoofing in West Virginia?
Scammers often spoof Caller IDs to disguise identities and hide the true origin of their calls. These deceptive practices make incoming calls appear to be from legitimate entities when they are indeed coming from fraudsters. West Virginians can identify spoofed calls by using applications that provide reverse phone lookup services. Common phone scams in West Virginia that breathe on Caller ID spoofing include:
- Kidnapping scams
- Bank scams
- Lottery scams
- Insurance scams
- Jury duty scams
- IRS scams
- Social security scams
- Tech support scams
- Investment scams
- Government grant scams