Phone spoofing means manipulating the caller ID information that appears on a call recipient's display screen. Spoofing makes a call appear as if it was made from a phone number with the same area code as the recipient. In North Dakota, phone spoofing and robocall are the leading causes of scams. According to a report submitted by North Dakota State, Consumer Protection Division, the top 10 scams in the state require spoofing at one point or the other. Residents of North Dakota receive tons of spoofed calls every year.
Spoofing has become very common due to the recent developments in technology. Individuals can now use readily available spoofing technology to display a number that is not the one they are using to place the call. Internet technology like Voice over Internet Protocol allows individuals to spoof and, at the same time, makes it difficult for them to get caught. In North Dakota, phone spoofing is only permitted when it is used in the following instances:
- When a law enforcement agency at the federal, state, county, or municipal level requests to hide their real identity to contact an individual in the state
- When an intelligence agency needs to remain anonymous to do their job
- When a telecom, broadband, or VoIP service provider acts as an intermediary for the transmission of telephone service.
- When a court order approves the use of such means to contact an individual in the state
Spoofing is illegal when used with the intent of stealing money or information from innocent individuals. In North Dakota, spoofing facilitates many phone and internet scams. Such crimes include:
Scammers may spoof the official numbers of officials or branches of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and inform their targets of a new tax rate. Sometimes, they may tell the target that they owe taxes that must be paid immediately. Scammers often use different types of threats to coerce the victim into making a wrong decision. This is done to trick taxpayers into giving money or information. Residents of North Dakota should know that the IRS never threatens anyone with arrest.
Telemarketing fraud is common in North Dakota. It occurs when criminals spoof the numbers of legitimate businesses to defraud unsuspecting customers over the telephone. The phone calls, also known as telephone solicitation, use false promises or bogus to trick the victim into doing anything they request. Telemarketing frauds may be used to steal personal information or money from individuals.
In North Dakota, placing a call to report a false incident may lead to the individual’s persecution. Swatting occurs when an individual reports a misleading incident to 911. This is done to elicit a response from the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team. Swatting is done as a prank, revenge, or a means to distract law enforcement. Residents threatened with swatting by anyone should immediately report to their County Attorney.
How Do You Know If Your Number Is Being Spoofed?
A phone number has been spoofed when the owner starts receiving calls and text replying to conversations they did not initiate. Scammers do not care about the owners of the phone numbers they steal. They often cause many problems and disappear, leaving the individuals to answer questions they know nothing about. Victims of phone scams may try to reach the number that scammed them, which may have been spoofed. Residents who receive such calls should quickly dissociate themselves from the fraud by contacting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In addition to this, the individual may need to contact a reverse phone number service provider for help. The provider can help monitor every phone number that calls your line.
Why is Phone Spoofing Illegal?
In America, phone spoofing is unlawful when it is used to perpetrate crime. Scammers use any available spoofing technology to display a number other than their real number on the call recipients display screen. In North Dakota, using a phone number belonging to someone else without their consent is a crime. Offenders may be taken to court for impersonation. Identity theft complaints have increased in North Dakota, and spoofing is a common trick used by these criminals. According to North Dakota's Consumer Protection, identity theft and telemarketing fraud are the top two scam complaints the state received in 2018. To combat spoofing in the state, the North Dakota Attorney General has asked the Federal Government to make strict laws prohibiting phone spoofing.
How Can You Identify and Protect Yourself from Illegal Spoofed Calls?
Residents of North Dakota receive tons of unsolicited calls yearly. The recurrent menace of phone spoofing has resulted in multiple losses for individuals in the state. Although residents are aware that scammers may spoof any number of their choice, many still fall victim to phone and internet scams. Here are some tips to help residents identify and protect themselves from spoofed calls:
- Residents should not bank on whatever appears on their display screen. Con artists may spoof a phone number to appear as if they are calling from the recipient’s location. Sometimes fraudsters may hijack real 701 area code phone numbers.
- Ignore calls from unknown numbers. Most callers with important information will drop a voicemail.
- Contact a reverse phone number service provider or download a reverse phone number application to identify caller IDs.
- Never give out personal information during a telephone solicitation. Hangup if a caller from your financial institution requests for personal information; it is most likely a scam.
- Download call blocking mobile applications like Truecaller or Nomorobo to identify spoofed calls.
- Enroll your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry.
- Contact the FCC by filing a complaint. Alternatively, file a consumer complaint with the North Dakota Attorney General Office.
Does North Dakota Have Anti-Spoofing Laws?
Yes, the state of North Dakota has enacted a bill prohibiting the use of inaccurate Caller ID information to defraud or cause harm to residents in the state. The North Dakota Telephone Caller Identification System Fraud proscribed the display of a telephone number that does not belong to the caller except with the actual owner’s permission. Any individual who receives a call in violation of this bill may bring a civil action in a court of this state for damages. The case is usually tried at the county court where the victim resides. If the plaintiff prevails in court, the court must award an actual damage amount not less than $5000.
In North Dakota State, each call that faults this bill is treated as a separate violation. In addition to this, North Dakota employs the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009. Hence, offenders may be required to pay fines between $10,000 to $1,000,000. The Federal Communications Commission instructs 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 North Dakota?
Caller ID spoofing is a routine tactic for scammers in North Dakota. There is hardly any scam that does not involve spoofing. Some of the scams that require spoofing in North Dakota include:
- Law enforcement impersonation scams
- Telemarketing scams
- Medicare scam
- Financial institutions scams
- Computer and tech support scams
- Scholarship scams