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McDaniel warns of ‘spoofing’

Many Arkansas consumers use their cell phone Caller ID to avoid unwanted calls from telemarketers. But the popular wireless feature is susceptible to fraud.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel recently issued a consumer alert to make Arkansans aware of a practice commonly known as Caller ID “spoofing,” which involves the display of a number on a person’s Caller ID that is not the number of the originating caller.

Caller ID spoofing can make a call appear to have come from any phone number the caller wishes, and sometimes results in extra fees on wireless bills. Arkansas law prohibits telemarketers from interfering in any way with the accurate display of Caller ID information.

“Our cell phones are such a big part of our lives, and Caller ID helps us make sure we catch the most important calls and avoid frustrating and time-consuming calls from telemarketers,” McDaniel said. “Unfortunately, we can’t always trust what appears on our cell phone screens.”

The Federal Communications Commission prohibits the practice of disguising an actual telephone number to mislead consumers regarding the true identity of a caller and the nature of the product or service being sold. Telemarketers are required by state and federal law to use accurate caller ID numbers when calling consumers.

The FCC requires each telemarketing company to transmit or display its telephone number, and if possible, its name or the name and telephone number of the company for which it is selling products or services. Telemarketers must also display a telephone number that a consumer may call during regular business hours to request that such calls stop.

Complaints about telemarketer spoofing can be made directly to the FCC at esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm or (888) CALL-FCC.

In addition to providing cover for fraudulent telemarketing, Caller ID spoofing can be used to perpetrate ID theft by convincing a consumer that he is dealing with a trusted source with which the consumer regularly does business.

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