MEAT & POTATOES: Red Alert! ‘Phone Spoofing,’ Read For Your Own Safety
MIKE VINSON, Guest Columnist
Sunday, January 16, 2011 5:47 am
If I knew that some mentally-deranged maniac was totin’ a .44 magnum handgun and threatening to blow your head clean off your shoulders, you’d want me to alert you to this, correct?
Well, the following, in its own high-tech way, is just as frightening.
On Jan. 5, I received a call from a close friend, and it was obvious that he was upset.
“Mike,” he said, “something just happened to me, and I need you to help me put it in writing. I feel an ethical obligation to get this out there!”
Here’s what happened, readers, on Jan. 5: In a matter of approximately 20 minutes (he has the exact times), my friend received four calls from unknown telephone numbers, which he answered.
All the callers on the other end were male, completely unknown to my friend, and they wanted to know what my friend was doing calling them.
They told my friend that his cell phone number had showed up on their caller ID’s. He told them he hadn’t called any of them.
Of particular interest, one of the male callers, totally irate, asked my friend what he meant by calling him, cussing him, and, still, threatening him with violence.
Baffled, my friend assured the male caller that he had no earthly idea what he was talking about, and the caller hung up, unconvinced.
Unnerved to the point of being sick, my friend called Verizon Wireless, who, in turn, connected him with Verizon’s legal department.
He told Verizon’s legal department what just had happened. Here’s what Verizon’s legal department told him there is a new telephone application available (actually in the form of a prepaid card, best I understand) called “Phone Spoofing.”
Verizon stated to my friend that they, Verizon, just had become aware of it — that, in fact, it was so new that the FCC/Federal Communications Commission had not had the time to outlaw it.
Verizon further told my friend that his situation was the very “first” they had encountered.
More troublesome, however, is that Verizon told him that their “hands were tied,” that for the time being this “Phone Spoofing” was legal, and all they could do for him was change his phone number.
So, John Q. Public, here’s what you’re up against.
If someone harbors a grudge against you, wants to cause you misery for whatever reason, your nemesis can utilize this “Phone Spoofing” technique and use it to manipulate the number that shows up on your or someone else’s caller/text I.D. For example: Ms. Y absolutely hates Mr. X, who not only jilted her for a trophy wife years back, but now has three lovely children and earns a seven-figure salary with a major corporation—it’s payback time!
So, Ms. Y has acquired “Phone Spoofing” capability.
She then enlists the help of a male accomplice to call Mr. X’s boss — CEO of the corporation — and tell him what a greedy, back-stabbing, pontificating SOB he is!
The CEO looks at his caller ID, and, sure enough, the number belongs to once-prized employee Mr. X — fired!
Upping the ante, this kind of high-tech availability could lead to even worse. Someone taunts an individual using someone else’s number, via “Phone Spoofing,” and the one being taunted goes over the edge, confronts the supposed caller (or texter), and stomps the living daylights out of him … maybe someone needlessly ends up in the morgue.
The potential malice/injury here is endless.
Sure, you have lackadaisical boneheads who have nothing better to do than spend their day harassing well-intended folks, but what about those cerebral, highly-capable types who could use this “Phone Spoofing” as a viable weapon to threaten national/world security?
Lesson learned: Just because you have received a call/text from a certain telephone number doesn’t necessarily means there is any validity to it.
It very well could be a malicious attempt by some psychotic imposter.