PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s called spoofing.
“What that means is changing your identifying information to match someone else,” Dr. Jacob Joseph, a forensic analyst, told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.
Both the Pittsburgh Police and at least 100 phone call recipients were the potential victims.
“It is a scam and we don’t want any more victims out there,” said Commander Eric Holmes of the Police’s Zone 2.
People started to get calls that their caller ID identified as coming from the city’s Zone 2 police station.
“Person on the other end were telling them that they were a federal law enforcement official and that they had to give money or they would have a warrant issued for their arrest,” added Holmes.
Of course, the police don’t operate that way, but some fraudster was faking the police zone’s caller ID.
Joseph, who works with federal agencies, said, “As a person receiving a call, you shouldn’t necessarily trust the caller ID information as being authoritative.”
That’s because you can’t be sure if the caller ID is real or fake.
It’s not hard to get an app for caller ID spoofing on your cell phone or smartphone, or you can just go to the Internet.
KDKA found one where you just enter your number, the number you’re calling, and your new identity — like say a police station — except that’s illegal if done for fraudulent reasons.
A federal law makes caller ID spoofing illegal if done to defraud or harm someone.
Best advice: before giving out any personal information, hang up and redial the agency to see if it’s real.
So can the fake caller ID be traced back to the scam artist?
“As an individual, you will not be able to do that,” said Joseph. “And that tracing action ends up being a difficult process even for the phone company.”
If you suspect a fake ID, call the Federal Communications Commission or visit their website here.
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