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It is not illegal to spoof phone numbers. It is how most phone scams start

I just received a call from my number. How is that possible?

Have you received a call on your cell phone and caller ID is showing your phone number? How did that happen? It is really pretty simple. They just have to order an app on line that will allow them to enter any number they want to display on your caller ID.

If they can fake a call from my own number what other descriptions can they use to get me to answer my phone? Maybe it comes up as a local, state or federal agency. The elderly are prime targets for this type of scam, but even younger adults fall for a variety of scams.

The Chicago Tribune recently reported on Social Security Scams being perpetrated on the elderly. They gave one example: “Your telephone rings and an automated message says your Social Security number has been “suspended” because of some suspicious activity. You may even be threatened with arrest if you don’t call the telephone number provided in the automated message.” What if they were able to generate a caller ID to make the recipient think the call is coming from the Social Security Administration?

The apps, which I am NOT going to link to, are perfectly legal to sell and own. The only thing that might be illegal is how they are used. The FCC states:

Under the Truth in 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. However, spoofing is not always illegal. There are legitimate, legal uses for spoofing, like when a doctor calls a patient from her personal mobile phone and displays the office number rather than the personal phone number or a business displays its toll-free call-back number.”

A friend recently received a call the caller ID said was coming from: Cook County4. Some guy named Larry said, “They needed to call back by the end of the day. He said it was important, but not urgent.” Larry did not get a call back and the end of the day came and went with no further calls from him.

The website: Should I answer has some very good articles on a wide variety of phone scams and suggestions on how to avoid becoming a victim. Here are a few

1. Hacking your online accounts

Spoofing the call number is just step one in this scam. Imagine your partner or child is calling (as you can clearly see on your phone display), desperate because of forgotten password to your bank account. Honestly: what will you do?

2. One ring phone scam

It goes like this. Your phone rings once and then stops. And then, you call back – and just by calling, you lost a lot of money. How’s that? Even though the number that appears in your phone log as a missed call appears to be a U.S area code, it’s actually a three-digit international area code. If you return the call, you could be connected to a phone number outside the United States, often in Canada or the Caribbean, and charged expensive international call rates.

3. Telemarketing

Well, it does make a sense. We are more willing to answer phone calls that appear to come from our neighborhood – and telemarketers know that.

Educate yourself about the dangers you face. Take a Self-Defense Class and learn to identify and avoid potentially dangerous people, places and situations.

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your family, your child’s high school, college, business, or organization contact me at

Thousands of adult men and women as well as high school and college students have learned how to improve their personal and situational awareness and to physically defend themselves using a wide variety of Martial Arts techniques.

Ed Kress
For over 40 years Ed Kress has been an instructor and student at the Degerberg Academy of Martial Arts, named "Best Overall Martial Arts School” worldwide by Black Belt Magazine. Master Fred Degerberg awarded Ed his 7th degree Black Belt in 2015. Growing up on Chicago’s Southside, Ed learned early in life to pay attention to his surroundings in order to avoid potentially dangerous people and situations. With the help of local law enforcement officers and directors of campus security, Ed developed a program focused on personal safety on the streets, and as it relates to the high school and college experience. Ed has trained thousands of adult men and women as well as high school and college students to improve their personal and situational awareness and, when necessary, how to physically defend themselves using their brains and a wide variety of martial arts techniques.

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