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Those Irritating Spam Calls May Not Last Much Longer – End of Neighbor Spoofing?

by | Nov 26, 2018 | MyTek Blog, Security

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When was the last time you got a call from an unknown number? There’s a good chance that you receive them more frequently than you’d like.

Previously, caller ID was a reliable feature to prioritize the calls. You could make out if the call was made using a local number. Or from someone you knew. But, these days, when you pick up the call, you are in for a surprise. For example, some callers claim to be from your credit card company. And you are asked to verify your details. 

Should you trust these calls? Not at all. These spam calls have become a cause of concern for businesses and consumers. In most cases, the receiver is greeted with a prerecorded message. Conversely, you may also get to know concerned friends and family about a call from your number, which you may have never made. If you have encountered the scenarios above, you have been a victim of neighbor spoofing.

In this article, we’ll explore neighbor spoofing and how to protect yourself from these scams.

What is Neighbor Spoofing?

Neighbor spoofing is a type of scam call from a known or unknown number. Here, the call looks like it is coming from a valid Caller ID having the same telephone code as your area. But, upon answering the call, you get robo messages asking you for personal details like a bank account, credit card numbers, and more. 

Also, spammers use your number to defraud your friends and neighbors. Some people have encountered situations like a security company reaching out to them to verify their hacked accounts. People give their details to rectify the hacking. They are hardly aware that it is the spammer who is using the call to cheat them.

In such a scenario, how can you protect yourself from neighbor spoofing? 

The Federal Communications Commission issued the Call Blocking Order, 2017 to end these spam calls. The telephone companies were given the power to block calls from invalid numbers. Also, numbers not associated with a regular service could be blocked. But, these measures were not strong enough to tackle robocalls or neighbor spoofing.

Recently, many apps have been developed that, to some extent, helps to regulate neighbor spoofing.

How Mobile Apps Prevents Neighbor Spoofing?

RoboKiller is a famous app that helps you tackle neighbor spoofing using a two-pronged strategy.

Let’s understand these steps in detail.

  1. Firstly, RoboKiller maintains a list of spam numbers in its repository. When a spam call arrives, the audio fingerprint is matched against those in the spam list. If the number is found to be spam, the user is immediately informed via notification messages.
  2. Secondly, RoboKiller engages with the spammer and wastes their time with a prerecorded message.
  3. Later on, the user can listen to the recorded spam conversation and see if the number is actually from a spammer. If the number is valid, the user can unblock the message by clicking the ‘Allow’ button.
  4. Also, users have the option of creating a permitted call list. Irrespective of whether a number is invalid, users can receive the call. This process is to make sure that you don’t block any valid or known number.

But, RoboKiller brings its own set of concerns.

  1. RoboKiller is not compatible with all smartphone devices. Hence, not all users can install the app on their devices.
  2. Older generations have not fully migrated to using smartphones. Many of them still use a basic mobile. This set of citizens could be subject to neighbor spoofing.

Hence, neighbor spoofing remains a concern for businesses and people alike. Due to this, US Federal Government has increased the security measures.

Let’s explore some of these measures.

What Are the Recent Government Measures to Tackle Neighbor Spoofing?

Post the Call Blocking Order 2017; the Robocall Technology Working Group was set up. This group comprised of Attorney Generals from 40 States. The main aim of this Bipartisan Commission is to understand the depth of penetration of robocalls to protect the citizens better.

However, on 8th October 2018, 35 of the above Attorneys sent a letter to the FCC stating that it is impossible to eliminate robocalls.

They even justified their position with some concrete facts.

  1. The number of robocalls increased to 30.5 billion in 2017 from 29.3 billion in 2016.
  2. It is estimated that robocalls will rise to 40 billion in 2018.
  3. Phone scams of 2017 led to a fraud of $9.5 billion.
  4. Of the 4 billion robocalls attempted in August 2018, 1.8 billion were scam calls.

Due to the alarming nature of these statistics, Federal Communications Commission has ordered the mobile service providers to come up with a standardized process to tackle the robocalls. In his letter to the telecom companies, FCC commissioner Ajit Pai highlighted the importance of authenticating a call at its source to root out robocalls right from its origin.

This framework is entitled the SHAKEN/STIR network (Secure Handling of Asserted information using toKENs/Secure Telephone Identity Revisited). A copy was sent to both CEOs of 14 companies as well as the press.

Some of the addressed CEOs are as follows:

  • John Donovan, AT&T
  • John Legere, T-Mobile
  • Sundar Pichai, Google
  • Brian Roberts, Comcast
  • Tom Rutledge, Charter
  • Hans Vesterburg, Verizon

The attorney generals well-received these advanced requirements to curb the robocall menace. They stated that “Only by working together and utilizing every tool at our disposal can we hope to eradicate this noxious intrusion on consumers’ lives.”

What now?

Until the government puts in place specific concrete measures, robocalls will likely continue to affect citizens’ safety. But don’t worry, MyTek has got you covered. We have the expertise to help you safeguard your mobile devices from fraudulent neighbor spoofing calls.

Get in touch with us at 623-312-2440 to know more.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim - Team

Tim Tiller, LMSW

 
Tim Tiller, MSW brings a deep service background to his role at Mytek, having graduated from McDonald’s management training program, fresh out of high school, and working his way up through the ranks in the hospitality industry. He has led two prior companies – Multi-Systems Inc., an IT-focused organization providing technology to hospitality companies (where he was named President at age 36), and most recently, as Chief Operating Officer for Jewish Voice Ministries International.

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