Maryland phone spoofing simply means using an application or any other technology connected with a communication server to deliberately cause any caller identification service to display false or misleading caller identification to any individual receiving the call. Spoofing is a conscious attempt to get an innocent person to think the call is from somebody they know or trust.
Over the years, spoofing has gradually increased. This results from the availability of new internet telephone technology and the activities of third-party service providers. With internet telephone technology like Voice over Internet Protocol, anyone can spoof their phone number.
In the United States, caller ID spoofing is prohibited when used to facilitate any crime including phone scams. Only the US police and some government agencies can disguise their phone number to contact citizens. Spoofing aids several crimes, and they include but are not limited to the following:
Caller ID spoofing is used to send false emergency calls to government agencies. Swatting is when a spoofed number pranks a law enforcement agency, in this case, the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, to elicit an immediate response from the team. This is done to waste their time or distract them from getting a clear picture of the real crime.
Individuals can spoof their caller ID to harass and prank their targets. Perpetrators of this crime spoof their number to display a number within the target's local area code. Once the receiver picks up, the con artist will pretend to know the victim very well. However, the real intention is to abuse, threaten, or prank the recipient. Individuals should do a reverse phone lookup whenever a caller starts giving suspicious warnings or instructions.
Scammers spoof the receiver's caller ID to display information on Government agencies. This is done with the intent of persuading the target to pick the call, instilling fear, and making the subject of discussion appear urgent. Residents will likely take a call as soon as they see it is a government agency number.
Impersonation scams are mostly used to obtain sensitive information or huge sums of money, in cash, cryptocurrency, or transfer from the target. Residents may contact a reverse phone number lookup service provider or use any reverse phone number lookup app to ascertain the call's source.
Caller ID spoofing is used to impersonate genuine telemarketers. Scammers use spoofed numbers so that their target will pick the call. These fraudsters proceed with a pre-recorded script to obtain personal information from targets, which is requested after the caller has made some bogus offers. Some con artists may speak to the target live, while others would leave a number the target should call. In the US, residents that suspect a fraudulent telemarketing activity on their number can file complaints with the Federal Communications Commission.
How Do You Know If Your Number Is Being Spoofed?
A phone number can be spoofed without the notice of the owner. Recognizing that your number has been spoofed is not an easy task. Scammers use spoofed numbers to defraud individuals, and these individuals may try to contact the number again. A phone number may have been spoofed when the owner starts receiving calls and texts from unknown contacts. These calls or texts are usually in reply to conversations that the number's owner did not initiate. To avoid being indicted, residents should contact the FCC by calling 1-888-CALL FCC (225-5322) or file an online report.
Why is Phone Spoofing Illegal?
In the United States, manipulating caller ID to defraud, harass, or obtain information of value from others is illegal. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) clearly stated that phone users have the right to decide whether to answer a call based on who the caller is. Spoofed calls are considered an infringement when used to facilitate fraudulent schemes. Any agreement made by a spoofed caller is deemed null and void under the Truth in Caller ID Act. The law governing caller ID in the US is the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009. This Act makes it illegal to deliberately transmit false caller information to perpetrate any criminal act. However, the Act does not apply to certain government agencies, like the State police and third-party service providers.
How Can You Identify and Protect Yourself from Illegal Spoofed Calls?
Spoofing has facilitated a lot of crimes. Hence it is necessary to protect yourself from spoofed calls. Here are some tips that can help.
- Hang up the phone when a caller insists that you take immediate action or request personal information that the organization they claim to represent should already have.
- Always consider doing a reverse phone number search if you think a caller is a fraud.
- Register on the National Do Not Call Register to stop robocalls and reduce unsolicited calls.
- Get a call blocking app to help you block any identified spoofed call.
- Report spoofed calls to the Federal Communications Commission by filing a complaint on their website.
Does Maryland Have Anti-Spoofing Laws?
The Maryland Public Commission Telecommunication Division regulates matters involving telecommunication services. However, the commission offers nothing concrete with regards to spoofing. The two laws that apply to spoofing in Maryland are:
Maryland Code, Public Utilities
§ 8-205 of the Public Utility Article prohibits telephone solicitors from blocking the transmission of the person's telephone number to a recipient. Callers trying to sell a product or services or any individual who intends to complete a transaction with another individual on the phone must obey this law. Anyone who violates this prohibition is guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction, is subject to a fine of up to $1,000 for the first offense and up to $5,000 for each subsequent offense.
Caller ID Spoofing Bill
In 2018, Maryland passed the Caller ID Spoofing Ban Bill to protect Maryland citizens from phone scams. The Caller ID Spoofing Bill prohibits individuals from taking certain actions to provide misleading location information when placing a telephone call with the intent to defraud, harass, cause harm, or gain anything of value. The Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, can handle the bill's requirements with existing resources.
Maryland telephone laws are in agreement with the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009. Fines between $10,000 to $1,000,000 can be imposed on any offenders. Additionally, the FCC mandates all voice service providers to work with caller ID authentication using the STIR/SHAKEN protocols.
What are Common Phone Scams involving Caller ID Spoofing in Maryland?
Caller ID spoofing is one of the tricks con artists use to keep their real identity a secret. Many phone and internet scams can not be completed without Caller ID spoofing. Given the increase in phone spoofing in the US, residents are advised to contact a reverse phone number service provider or use any reverse phone lookup tool whenever they suspect a potential phone scam.
Residents who believe they are being targeted by phone spoofing scams should file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Victims may also contact the FCC by calling 1-888-CALL FCC (225-5322). Alternatively, residents can file and submit a complaint to the Maryland Attorney General's Office. Some common crimes facilitated by spoofing in Maryland include:
- Credit card scams
- Law enforcement impersonation scams
- Emergency scams
- Tech support scams
- Telemarketing scams