Ever gotten yourself into a situation where you realised, someone is using my phone number to make calls?
If you’ve ever received strange calls or texts before, you might think that someone has simply gotten the wrong number. But when you discover that it’s a call or text from your own number, you should know that someone has already spoofed your number.
Can someone use my cell phone number to make calls? Yes, they can. Telemarketers and spam callers do it all the time.
But how can you stop them? Is it possible to trace a spoofed phone number, and is there a solution for how to make your number unknown when calling someone? Read on to find out.
What’s Phone Spoofing, and how does someone do it?
Phone spoofing generally refers to changing the caller ID to any number other than the actual calling number. According to the Federal Communications Commission, the federal government identifies spoofing as any instance where callers deliberately falsify information transmitted to a caller ID to hide their identity.
Another form of phone number spoofing is known as neighbour spoofing. This means using a call recipient’s area code to manipulate them into picking up the call.
Spoofing phone numbers is legal in the United States, unless it was done with the aim of hurting or exploiting call recipients.
Anyone can spoof phone numbers. From phone number spoofing apps to online ID spoofing services, there are a lot of ways that someone else can get hold of your phone number. Only three pieces of information are needed to use any of these services: the phone number you’re calling from, the phone number you wish to call, and the number you want displayed in your recipient’s caller ID.
Is it possible to trace a spoofed number?
Spoofed numbers cannot be called back. That makes tracing a spoofed phone number back to a caller extremely difficult. While you can request legitimate companies to disclose if they use spoofed phone numbers or not, most spoofed phone numbers are usually used by the less scrupulous.
You can request assistance from law enforcement agencies or your phone carrier. Both will take up a lot of time, and there’s no guarantee of success.
How to stop someone from spoofing your phone number
It may be close to impossible to stop someone from spoofing your number. Tracing a spoofed phone number is also really difficult. But if you realise, someone is using my phone number to make calls, there are some things you can do to stop them from spoofing your phone number.
Tip 1: Reverse look up the phone number
If you’re not sure If someone else has your phone number, you can try to perform a reverse phone number lookup on a search engine like Google. Simply type in the spoofed number, and see if the number leads you back to a website or company.
Some reverse phone lookup tools also allow you to find out a caller’s name and address. Say you get a call from a number that has your area code, but you’re not sure if the caller really is from nearby. Do a reverse phone number lookup to see if the caller is authentic, or simply using spoofed phone number.
Tip 2: Don’t rely on blocking spoofed phone numbers
It seems intuitive to block calls and texts from any spoofed phone numbers one by one. But blocking spoofed phone numbers won’t work. Anyone using a phone number spoofing service can’t easily generate any number of fake phone numbers to use, Blocking a spoofed phone number is ultimately pointless.
Tip 3: Don’t rely on just the Do-Not-Call Registry
You can also block spoofed phone numbers by applying for the Federal Trade Commission’s Do-Not-Call Registry. But take note that the DNC Registry only stops legitimate companies from making unsolicited sales calls to you. Unethical telemarketing and spam calls can still get to you through spoofed phone numbers.
Tip 4: Use a fake phone number app
To stop spoofed phone numbers, you need a solution for how to make your number unknown when calling someone.
Simply don’t reveal your actual phone number when you call or text. You can do that with a second phone number or fake phone number app like Burner, Hushed or Phoner.
Fake phone number apps provide you with second phone numbers you can call and text with. By using these fake phone numbers, you can hide your actual phone number and prevent your actual number from being spoofed, AND stop spoofed calls from telemarketers and scammers from reaching your actual number.
What else should I do if someone is using my phone number to make calls?
If you discover that your phone number has been spoofed, be cautious if you decide to question or verify the caller. When you pick up a spoofed call, never reveal any personal details that can leave you at risk of identity theft.
Spoofed phone numbers can pose a risk not only to you but your friends and family too. Make sure to let your contacts know that your phone number has been spoofed. If you suspect that your phone number has been used for malicious purposes, inform law enforcement and the FTC immediately.
So that's it. If you find out, someone is using my phone number to make calls, you know what to do, and what actually works to keep you safe.