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Spoofing cell phone numbers

Spoofed cell phone numbers allow calls from one number to be displayed as coming from another number. Spoofing occurs when callers intentionally mask their number. Scammers frequently use this technique to pose as a legitimate business and collect sensitive information from customers.

One common tactic is neighbor spoofing, in which callers display the local area code rather than the area code they are calling from.

The main concern with spoofing occurs when scammers spoof a well-known business number. When this happens, consumers believe that they are receiving a call from their bank or healthcare center. Under this assumption, customers may reveal sensitive information to the scammer. When customers start receiving scam calls from impostors pretending to be your business, they become hesitant to trust your brand (even when the call is legitimate).

It is essential to understand the security measures you can take to safeguard your customers and business from the negative effects of spoofing.

Is spoofing legal?

The FFC guidelines for illegal cell phone number spoofing are defined as, “​​intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value.” Under this definition, any spoofing done by fraudsters to inaccurately represent themselves is illegal.

Examples of illegal spoofing: 

  • Fraudsters obtaining social security numbers by posing as a legitimate business.
  • Healthcare scammers claiming a family member was admitted and needs money.
  • Impersonations of any kind of business.

While spoofing may be used for fraudulent activities, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) actually allows many types of spoofing. This is because reliable businesses use spoofing, sometimes called call masking, for legitimate business purposes. Some good rules of thumb for remaining compliant with FCC guidelines are to accurately identify yourself and state your call intentions from the beginning of the interaction.

Examples of legal spoofing:

  • Medical professionals spoofing their personal phone numbers to display the office number.
  • Telemarketers calling on behalf of the company and using the same number for callback.
  • Businesses spoofing to display a toll-free number.

While spoofing can be done legally, it isn’t always the best approach for businesses to take. Displaying a branded caller ID allows for more control and customization across every number used by the organization.

With Hiya Connect, organizations can display their company name, logo, call reason, and more. These details can also be updated in real-time across all company numbers.

Negative effects of spoofing

As a legitimate business, your main priority should be to build a positive reputation around your business. Cell phone number spoofing will tarnish your image and customers will be hesitant to do business with you in the future.

Impact on customers and employees

One of the most important aspects of your business is the people who you serve. Their safety is a top priority. Many fraudsters use a spoofing attack to steal sensitive information like email addresses, social security numbers, bank details, names, and more. When customers unknowingly provide this information to scammers, they can have their identities stolen and suffer financial losses.  

Employees suffer a similar impact depending on which information they give and how much. Not only do they suffer personal losses, but they could leak company information like passwords, financial data, and internal knowledge. Scammers then sell this information to competitors and put the company at greater risk.

Decrease in answer rates

If your company has garnered a negative reputation due to spoofing, your customers will become less likely to pick up the phone in the future. There is no way for them to know if the call is legitimate; 94% of consumers think unidentified calls might be fraudulent.

How to prevent spoofing from harming your business

Many organizations, like the FCC, have put rules in place to prevent illegal cell phone number spoofing. However, these systems alone are not enough to protect your business from the negative effects of spoofing.

After a spoofing attack, rebuilding customer trust is never easy. Displaying a Branded Call is a great way to establish the legitimacy of your call and deliver a quality first impression. Customers can instantly see your customized caller ID and recognize that your business is actually the one on the other line. 

In addition, ​our call intelligence platform’s reporting feature allows you to see how many times your number has been spoofed on our network. This allows you to have a pulse on customer experience and make sure that the number of deceitful contacts is at its lowest.

Interested in learning more about how spoofing is affecting your business? Download the State of the Call Report for insights from over 243 billion calls and 13,000 surveyed consumers.