Telemarketers Use Caller ID Spoofing To Pitch Products

By Diana Perez, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – All those telemarketing phone calls can be an annoying interruption in the middle of dinner or during your favorite TV show.

And the phone may start ringing even if you have signed up for the Do Not Call Registry.

Its especially frustrating to Lindee Rochelle who still gets unwanted calls at her home office.

Rochelle says “You’re prepared for a business call and when you get something like that it’s just like you were interrupted for absolutely no good reason.”

Lindee checks her caller ID before picking up the phone. But she has noticed that some telemarketers are not who they appear to be.

That’s because she is a victim of Caller ID spoofing.

It happens when a caller disguises their name and phone number to make it look like they’re someone else.

Its an illegal way for deceptive telemarketers to get around the Do Not Call registry to pitch products like credit cards, mortgage help, or debt relief.

William Maxson of the Federal Trade Commission says this is a serious and growing problem, “Each month when we look at our top number of complaints for do not call violations, spoofed caller ID name and number are always at the top.”

Under the current rules telemarketers are required to display accurate caller ID  information. But when a call is spoofed, that phone number is a fake.

Other times the name of the caller is generic like “card services” or “customer service.”

And Carl Howe of Boston’s Yankee Group says the problem isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.

“The thing to not underestimate is how clever marketers can be when they are trying to get their message across,” he says.

And that will make it difficult for consumers to screen out every unwanted call.

WBZ-TV’s Diana Perez reports

The FTC is going after companies that use spoofing to trick consumers and they want to know if you’ve been a victim.

If so, keep track of that fake phone number and file a complaint at or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.

  • Tammy LeVasseur

    The link is dead, please see if there is another link available. As for the spoof calls-I have been dealing with them for the better part of 2 years and find each time I block a number they add another-it is very frustrating. I have not only reported the calls on the Do Not Call list I have also called local police and the FCC. I have actually had some of thee callers get foul and belligerent with me as well as threatening-some how they need to put a stop to this.

  • Julie the Jarhead

    BTW, there is NO SUCH THING as a Do-Not-Call registry for cells phones. This is a SCAM that has been making its way around the Web for more than five years.


    Thank you.

    • Red Sox 33 Fan


  • The Facts

    The best way to make these calls end is for idiots to stop falling for their BS. Given the state of our liberal education system, these scammers should have have no trouble for years to come in finding victims ….

  • Erin

    I don’t have caller ID, I simply do not answer the phone, I screen all calls, everyone knows that even if I am home, they need to say who they are on the answering machine before anyone in my house picks up. we always know who it is before we pick up if they say who they are after the beep. and the ones who do not leave a message, well those are the telemarketers……

  • Jim

    Best reaction is tell them wait a minute, you have to turn the stove off, put the phone down but don’t hang up. Eventually they give up waiting. If you just hang up on them they call the next person. Waste their time not yours.

  • LogicBomb

    Welcome to the weakest generation of America to date!
    When They mess up our McDonald’s order, we whine.
    When they don’t put enough in cream in our Starbucks Latte, we whine.
    And God forbid some poor souls have had to pick up a phone and say “No TY” and hang up, because that…that makes us whine too.

    I know a kid that came back from his second tour in Iraq with one less leg. You want to know how much he whined? He didn’t. Not once. Barely even mentioned it.

    You guys…(especially Jim) ….are you for real?
    This whole story is pathetic.

  • jaygee

    Another scheme is one in which the caller says he is calling from the local police or fire dept. They make it sound like you know them but of course, they are neither cops or firemen but telemarketers who will keep 80% of the money they raise in any town they collect. Deception all the way and the police & fire unions don’t care because they get some money for doing nothing. Anytime somebody tells you to put a check in an envelope and tape it to your door, that’s the tip-off.

  • tsal

    I fully understand this topic. I was all set up for a phone conference this morning when I received a call from an anonymous caller. I had not choice to answer as I was not certain if it was for the phone conference. It was a telemarketer who – when I explained why I had to clear the line – kept talking. It was for the American Heart Association. These associations need to understand that people have long memories and if a marketer is impolite it makes a difference.

    jaygee – the police and fire calls are always from anonymous callers. I explain I would never donate to someone who is anonymous – you’d think above all they would understand that.

  • IronManCC

    I have Caller ID and essentially do not pick up the phone if I don’t know who’s calling. If it’s something important, they can leave me a message on voice mail. If I do happen to answer the phone & it’s a solicitation, I just say “Not Interested” and hang up the phone before they can respond.

  • Nosgood4me

    If people really didnt want this it would not happen. My phone iis off most of the time . key word : { OFF }

  • noooooooname

    Just get a whistle and blow as hard as ya can into phone…guaranteed wont call back unless they want a broken ear drum…works for me big time!!!!!

  • mark

    The FTC says it’s a problem but they do squat about it.The FTC prosecuted about 3 companies last year.Also,the Do-Not-Call list for cell phones IS NOT a scam.It is real.I listed my cell phone and the only calls I get are from the illegal companies who use rob-calling.The all ask about reducing your credit card debt or it’s interest rate.Just press 1 to speak to an operator.I tried that and the guy swore at me and told me I was wasting “his” time.If I could have reached through the phone I would have hit him on the head with a ball-peen hammer.HARD!

  • yamstar1

    And stories like this are why we no longer have a land line. Calls from our known cell phone contacts are the only ones that get answered. All others are ignored. According to a story on the news two weeks ago 85% of the adults in US have cell phones and they all have GPS locaters. The time has come for the land line to go the way of the buggy whip.

  • RedSox33Fan

    I have been going through this for well over 2 years–I have contacted the phone company, the FCC and the Better Business Bureau along with the Attorney General’s Office. They call my house at least 5 times a day and nothing works to get rid of them. The problem now is that the numbers that are coming up on my caller ID are local numbers and of people I know–there is an app that makes it look like you are calling from a familiar number. The phone company cannot do anything, it is impossible to track ghost numbers. Lately, they have been calling during the night. It is beyond annoying at this point and something needs to be done.

  • Michael Dwells

    and that is really alarming! Scammers can now fake their phone numbers to make their call more realistic and for people not to identify them.

    But I’m just wondering, telcos can see the see the caller’s information from their end. Don’t they have any plan to help resolve this problem? I haven’t read anything about them initiating an action to help locate phone scammers. Or could it be because these scammers are also paying their phone bills on time so they don’t really care about the scams at all?

    • Michael Dwells

      And I’ve read a lot about Caller ID spoofing at It’s alarming how quickly the complaints pile up at the website.

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