What is Phone Spoofing in Nebraska?
Phone spoofing is the intentional misrepresentation of caller ID information so that the person that receives the call has no idea where it is being made from. Even though phone spoofing is used for legal reasons, its ability to falsify caller ID information makes it very popular amongst phone scammers. Some criminal activities that involve the use of phone spoofing include:
- Hoax calls, where the caller uses phone spoofing to make people believe that the call is coming from a reputable source. These calls are often made as practical jokes and do not involve the solicitation of money or information from the person that receives the call.
- Criminal harassment, where the caller uses phone spoofing to pretend to be a government official or a law enforcement officer and threatens the call receiver. These types of calls are also done to deceptively obtain money or personal information from the receiver.
- Criminal impersonation, where the caller uses phone spoofing to pretend to represent a well-known establishment such as a financial institution and tries to obtain personal information or money from the receiver of the call.
- Unsolicited telemarketing, where the caller uses phone spoofing to make the call look like it is made from a nearby location. This is done to trick the receiver of the call into picking up and then soliciting the receiver’s money.
Telecommunications technology like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has made it very easy for individuals to spoof phone numbers. This has also allowed phone scammers to incorporate phone spoofing into their routines. The Nebraska Attorney General is tasked with tackling all phone scams and prosecuting all individuals charged with committing these scams. Members of the public that have been affected by a phone scam can make a report to the Attorney General’s Office.
Why Is Phone Spoofing Illegal?
Phone spoofing, or caller ID spoofing as it is sometimes referred to, is not wholly illegal in the United States. However, because of the propensity for phone spoofing to be used in phone scams, certain phone spoofing uses are criminalized by the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009. Per this act, it is illegal to spoof a phone number in the United States to cause harm, wrongfully obtain things of value, or defraud a person.
The Nebraska Attorney General is charged with the enforcement of the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 in the state of Nebraska. With the exception of authorized law enforcement officers and people with specific court orders, persons found guilty of any of the criminalized uses of phone spoofing can be issued a fine of up to $10,000 for each crime committed.
How Do You Know If Your Number Is Being Spoofed?
Phone spoofing is a popular tactic amongst phone scammers, and these scammers can spoof any number. If your phone number has been spoofed, there is almost no way to know when it happened. Usually, the surest way to know that this has happened is if you start receiving a lot of calls from unknown callers, and all of them make inquiries about services or products that you know nothing about.
Having to continually explain to unknown callers that your phone number has been spoofed can be a very frustrating and exhausting experience. Also, having your phone number spoofed may have legal repercussions if your number is used to carry out a crime. To reduce your exposure, you can take the following steps:
- File a report with the Federal Communications Commission;
- Inform everyone that contacts you that a scammer spoofed your phone number. The best way to do this is by recording a voice message that is automatically played whenever you receive a call. Use this message to also warn your callers that the person contacting them with your phone number is a con-artist, and tell them to block your number;
- Download an app that allows you to block calls and messages from unknown numbers. Your phone may have an in-built option for this. You can also contact your network provider and find out the available call-blocking options they have.
How Can You Protect Yourself from Illegal Spoofed Calls?
You can protect yourself from receiving illegal spoofed calls and falling victim to a phone spoofing scam by taking some precautionary steps, which include:
- Reduce the number of unsolicited telemarketing calls that you receive by registering your number on the National Do Not Call Registry;
- Only answer calls from numbers that are saved in your phone book;
- Always remember that caller ID information can be spoofed;
- Never disclose sensitive information to callers that claim to be representatives of government agencies or financial institutions;
- Hang up if a caller tries to pressure or threaten you into making a decision;
- Use phone lookup and reverse phone lookup apps to search for numbers that you are unsure of;
- Block any spoofed phone number that has been used to contact you.
Does Nebraska Have Anti-Spoofing Laws?
Nebraska Legislative Bill No. 693 was introduced on January 23, 2019, and approved by the state's governor on May 8, 2019. This bill, which has been signed into law as the Neighbor Spoofing Protection Act, prohibits the intentional transmission of misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to cause harm, defraud, or obtain anything of value. Violators of this law can be charged with an administrative penalty of up to $2,000 for each violation. The amount charged is usually based on the following:
- The nature, extent, circumstances, and gravity of the violation;
- Efforts made to correct the violation;
- Any history of previous violations;
- The amount necessary to deterrence for future violations;
The Nebraska Neighbor Spoofing Protection Act is very similar to the federal anti-spoofing law. However, federal law fines violators up to $10,000 for each violation.
What Are Common Phone Scams Involving Caller ID Spoofing in Nebraska?
The most common types of phone scams reported to the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office that utilize phone spoofing are:
- Romance scams;
- Financial institution scams;
- Government lookalike scams;
- Tech support scams;
- Lottery and sweepstakes scams;
- Debt collector scams
Members of the public that have either been affected by a scam or have information on scams should submit a report to the Attorney General’s Office.