Why is caller ID spoofing legal?

I can’t imagine any legitimate uses for it. It seems to happen all the time, and at one point a scam college on the other side of the country was calling me from a local radio station’s phone number :confused: . I am in the USA, and am very surprised that the FCC doesn’t have anything to say about this.

Unless you’re using a false identity to commit fraud or a crime, you’re free to use a fraudulent identity. The problem is proving the fraudsters are fraudsters. In the case of ‘Heather’/‘Rachel’, they are clearly breaking federal law by calling numbers on the Do Not Call list. But until someone who matter is taken by their scam, the government isn’t going to do anything about them…

Caller ID spoofing is illegal. The problem is how do you identify and report someone hiding their identity?


The relevant clause is ‘defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value’. The ‘Heather’/‘Rachel’ callers are clearly up to no good. But by legal definition, are they attempting to defraud people? They’ve been at it for years. Maybe they make enough that $10,000 per call is just the cost of doing business. Or else they aren’t technically doing anything illegal.

Who / what exactly are Heather & Rachel? How are you/we so certain they’re up to illegal, as opposed to just crappy, business practices selling whatever they’re trying to sell?

There IS a legitimate use for it, very similar to the legitimate use for spoofing your email address. Namely, that you don’t want people to return the call to the number you are calling from, but to some other number. Back when I first started carrying a cell phone, I still primarily gave out a landline as my phone number, and set the landline to forward to my cell phone after several rings. I didn’t want anybody to dial the cell phone directly. For one thing, I wanted my voice mail on the service attached to the landline, NOT the cell phone. I would have liked to have been able to make calls I made from the cell phone show my landline number to keep people from returning calls to the “wrong” line. I’ve since ditched the landline, so it isn’t an issue, but it is a legitimate reason for wanting to spoof your caller ID.

The legitimate use – and why the caller ID system was set up to allow it – was for places with a large internal phone system, with lots of phones that have their own dialable numbers, but are set up so that calls actually go through a small number of phone lines between the site’s system and the outside world.
This works fine -cheaper for everyone concerned, and gives the site good flexibility – except that when someone calls out, the phone number ID would be the site’s outgoing line, not the dialable number of the particular phone (e.g. MegaCorp employee can be direct dialed at 555-2345, but caller ID would show MegaCorp’s main trunk line 555-2001). Big companies wanted to have caller ID show the right number to call back – the particular person/extension, not the trunk line). So the phone companies set up caller ID to allow a phone to say “Show 555-2345 as my caller ID to return the call to”.

Works fine as long as nobody is trying anything nefarious. Unfortunately, like a lot of networking things from that time period, there was a lot of trust that nobody nefarious would be using them.

I remember the roboname being ‘Heather’, but it looks like ‘Rachel’ is the name they’ve been using recently. The robocalls are from ‘Cardmember Services’, and purport to offer suckers – I mean potential clients – a way to reduce the interest on their credit card bills. I don’t know how it works, as the scamsters only want to talk to people who will give them money/personal information.

How am I (personally) certain they’re up to something illegal? For one thing, legitimate businesses don’t shout ‘F*ck you!’ when you question them. Based on personal experience with my dad (traumatic brain injury), these people prey on the elderly. They also prey on people who are, shall we say… ‘unsophisticated’. Is what they’re doing technically illegal? (I asked earlier in this thread.) I don’t know. It may be perfectly legal to convince an elderly or financially incapable person to assign you their assets, and, once you have control, take as much as you want for yourself. but it isn’t moral.

But one thing that they are absolutely, positively, without any question whatsoever, doing that is illegal is violating the Do Not Call list. Maybe that’s not such a big thing as bilking money out of unsuspecting people; but hey, Al Capone got put away for tax evasion.

I do not have a land-line, just a cellphone. I do not want anyone to have my number so I block my number from appearing on caller IDs. When I call a client after business hours, some of them have blocked their lines from receiving calls from callers who block their number. I used to use a spoofing app to get around this. Now I just make sure my clients know that I cannot call them if their phone doesn’t let me through.