A New Reason Why You Can't Trust Your Caller ID - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/12/07

A New Reason Why You Can't Trust Your Caller ID

Caller ID tells you who is calling before you pick up the phone.  Two months ago, Kim Owens would have told you she was skeptical of her caller ID after hearing a "tacky" message on her phone.  Her caller  ID showed a very familiar number.  "It was a good friend of ours in Montana. I called him and said, 'why would you do this?' And he said 'I didn't do it.'"

Kim searched on the Internet for information about how to change caller ID,"and sure enough all these different links came up," said Kim. 

We tracked it down too.  It is called "spoofing."  For as little as $10, websites such as www.spoofcard.com will let you disguise your phone number.

We tried it ourselves, using my cell phone to call someone else's phone and disguise the caller I.D. by going through the spoofcard number first. I was able to make the call look like it was coming from anyone and anywhere -- from the Texas Governor to the White House.

That's not the only thing it can disguise. I spoke using my normal voice, but a voice altering program makes the call seem like it's coming from a man.

"The more I read, the more I heard about child molesters that are using that to call people's homes and put in the parents work number," said Kim.

Better Business Bureau Director Nan Campbell says harassing phone calls are not just the only problem.  "It makes it possible for a thief to steal someone's identity," said Campbell.

Spoofcards can easily be used to trick a caller into thinking the phone call is from a reputable place.  "I would advise use extreme caution in giving out any information over the phone, even though you may think you're talking to someone you know," said Campbell.

We also discovered it is not illegal to alter your voice or disguise your number.  However, Congress is working on new legislation that will make it illegal for people to alter the ID with intent to cause harm or steal someone's ID. 

But until then, Campbell says people need to know the possibility is still out there.  "We want to arm viewers with as much good information we can, to know what not to do to know what to be aware of," said Campbell.

"I think people should know if someone's done this to me, there maybe other people out there that have gotten these kind of calls or maybe friendships that maybe broke-up because you trusted your caller ID," said Kim.

We were unable to reach the company behind spoofcard which has no known phone number or address. We checked with the Texas Attorney General's Office who says they have had no complaints on spoofcards, but they urge consumers who have been spoofed, to file a complaint by calling their offices at 1-800-252-8011.

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