Do you like pranking your friends or strangers but do not want to reveal your identity or get caught? Need something to laugh at while you’re bored?
The ability to pull off a perfect prank has a few key factors, a perfect plan and complete anonymity.
What exactly is spoof calling?
You must’ve received a robocall (recorded call) or a spam call that asks for your personal details or to simply propagate a business plan via phone call with a concealed number. This, in simple terms, is called spoofing.
According to the Federal Communication Commission, “Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity.”
Is a spoofed call always a bad thing? No not really especially when it’s done to prank someone to bring out humor and fun.
Playing a devil’s advocate here, this article shall include all the aspects of what is legal and illegal spoofing and a few tips and tricks to get away with a prank call without getting caught.
How are spoofed calls made?
The Federal Communication Commission states that there are many ways a spoof call can be made, One of the most convenient methods to create fake numbers is with the help of voice over internet protocol (VoIP).
Scammers can either use free open-source VoIP tools or create an account with VoIP providers that allow them to alternate their original number to any number they request for.
Upon configuration of the original number to a spoofed number, the scam artist can then make scam calls without any limitations.
Unfortunately, a spoofed call cannot be called back to since it does not have a legitimate origin, therefore there’s no fear of being accountable to anybody due to the absolute anonymity provided by the VoIP tools.
What is Spoofed calling used for?
A brief history of spoof calling is that it was originally used by government officials to contact people anonymously which later became a practice amongst businesses to contact potential targets via phone call to the masses since it is free and cost-efficient.
Now, the fact that everything that originally had a harmless purpose has to be misused is inevitable.
Spoof calling is used for multiple purposes such as:
- Scams involving bank accounts: A caller posing as a bank employee will inform you that there is a problem with your account and that you must immediately give them your bank credentials and information so they can resolve it. In reality, this person would try to obtain your money via the details you provide.
- Scams involving the government: In this type of scam, a person posing as a government official will ring you up and warn you that you haven’t submitted your information and Social Security number, something awful is going to happen if you don’t do it on the call or you’ll lose out on a certain advantage. But on the other hand, Your information will be stolen in order to commit fraud.
- Scams involving tax dues: A call from someone who is portraying themselves as the official authority demanding payment right away for an overdue tax bill in order to prevent being detained, penalized, or deported. However, the official authority, The Federated Trade Commission (FTC) stated that You’ll get a letter that deals with your obligations and all the available payment choices. Official authorities always follow a said procedure in order to report such matters. Not a mere phone call.
- Tech support con artists: A scam artist will call you and tell you that your PC is having issues and it might just, shut down permanently if you don’t get it fixed When you grant them remote access, they can try to install malware or other undesirable programs, or they might try to charge you for their not so real repair services.
- Scams involving prizes and business opportunities: A caller will try to sell you a business opportunity or inform you that you have won a prize. They’ll state that the only need for claiming the prize is to make a small up-front payment. However, after you pay the amount, you realize you’ve been scammed.
Are Spoof calls legal?
In the United States of America:
Under the Truth of Caller ID Act, FCC rules prohibit anyone from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value. Anyone who is illegally spoofing can face penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation.
Under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 Section 25(c) which states that “If any person intending to commit mischief, damages, removes, tampers with or touches any battery, machinery, telegraph line, post or other thing whatever, being part of or used in or about any telegraph or in the working thereof, he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine or with both.”
According to a report from the India Department of Telecommunications, the government of India has taken multiple steps against such callers some of them being:
- Websites that allow and provide caller ID spoofing services are banned in India as an immediate effect.
- International long-distance operators (ILDOs), national long-distance operators (NLDOs) and access service providers have been warned of the presence of such spoofing services, and will efficiently take action against the scam callers.
How to legally spoof a call to someone?
In India, Under Chapter 17 Section 425 of the Indian Penal Code, Mischief is defined which basically suggests what comes under the definition of mischief and spoofing is not completely illegal. Since harmless spoofing stays within the guidelines set in order to determine legal and illegal spoofing, spoofing cannot be considered illegal and punishable under the law.
A perfect prank call is when you don’t get caught, hence there are a few things you need to consider and keep track of while pranking-
- Download an app that conceals your original number, or better yet, use a local telephone to call. (stay anonymous, you’ll never know who has your number and who doesn’t!)
- Always remember your voice does not change in seconds, practice before making the call.( Perfection is the key!)
Some tricks to change your voice-
- Download a voice changer app
- Use a higher or lower pitch while conversing
- Give the phone to someone else who can talk on your behalf
- Have a kid talk gibberish with them
- Pick a topic that is generic or something you have a clear idea about. (What’s the point of the prank call if you fumble while you talk)
Here are some interesting ideas to prank someone and not offend them.
- Prank call ideas
- Keep track of the topic you’re discussing. (I mean, why would you give yourself out by forgetting what you are talking about.)
- Do not laugh or hesitate. (remember the golden rule? If you laugh, you’re wrong, yeah well do not laugh or hesitate while talking.)
- Avoid topics that could legally get you into trouble. (making fun of someone to the extent of harassment or imposing hate speech is not cool.)
A fun prank call can always bring humor and giggles to both the caller and the receiver but always remember to be aware of what you say, because it can always be used against you.
If you are bothered by obnoxious spam callers to the extent that you just cannot bear it anymore. Read the FAQ below in order to find a remedy to your issues.
- How to recognize a spoofed call?
Even though there aren’t any accurate ways to identify a spoofed call, there are different techniques to have a fair clue about the scam.
- Check the phone number on Google- An efficient method to identify a con artist is to run a quick web search for the phone number that called you.
- This isn’t really effective if they pretend to be from a firm and use the company’s phone number, but it will capture those who use fake local phone numbers while posing as someone else.
- You should dial the number that is phoning you- Call the number on a different phone while the individual is still on the line. If the line is busy, this can be evidence that they really are calling from the number they claim to be.
- If a caller claims to be from a business or organization, get their official phone number and call them to verify both the caller’s identity and their claims.
- Use caller ID apps- Many apps are available on the Play Store such as Truecaller that identify scam callers and flag them as well as give an option to report and block them.
- How to avoid spoof calling?
Usually, spoof calls are made through phone numbers without any legitimate origin hence it is recognizable, however, there are a few ways through which you can, if not completely, to a great extent avoid scam calls.
- Avoid entering online contests or sweepstakes: The internet is filled with phony surveys and shady contests that are just interested in collecting your personal information.
- Never respond to calls from unknown callers: Red flags should be raised when incoming calls come from blocked or unfamiliar numbers. By declining to pick up, you deny potential scammers you can avoid being their potential target.
- On your device, manually block spam phone numbers: Calls from any number, regardless of whether fake or not, you can block any caller ID in order to stop unwanted calls or trouble.
- How to report spoof calls?
- Local authorities should be notified if any suspicious or unwelcome calls are made, if you live in India you can file a complaint at The official cyber crime portal which investigates consumer complaints of fraudulent phone spoofing.
- Here’s a step-by-step process to report a complaint in the official cybercrime portal
– Visit the webpage https://cybercrime.gov.in
– On the main website page, click on ‘File a complaint’.
– Read and accept all the mentioned terms and conditions in the form and proceed further.
– Press the ‘Report other cybercrime’ button.
– Pick the ‘citizen login’ option and enter the required details asked on the website, it can include name, phone number, address, etc, if you want to anonymously report a cybercrime, you can do that too.
– Enter the OTP sent to your registered phone number then click on the submit button.
– On the next page, enter the details of the cybercrime you want to report, the site will ask for various details, be sure to fill them up correctly.
– Fill in all the relevant details and make sure it’s accurate up to your understanding. ( there are punishments for false reporting too!)
– You will be directed to another page. There, mention the details and all the relevant evidence relating to the crime, such as screenshots or files. Once you’re done filling in the details, press ‘Save and Next’.
– The next page is about any leading information about the alleged suspect. Fill in the details as required.
– Now verify all the given details and click on the ‘Submit’ button.
- How to block spoof calls?
Scam calls can usually be identified through various caller ID apps which identify and red flag scam calls and later you have the option prompted to report and block such calls.