44

Sequence of events:

  1. I didn't touch my phone all day (at work, busy day, know it didn't even come out of my pocket, but was on).
  2. 5:20pm I get a call by a guy asking me who I am and why I called him at 2pm. Tell him I didn't call him.
  3. Immediately after, I texted the guy who called me to text me if he verified I called him.
  4. ~7pm, he sends me a text with a screenshot of his call list, he had a call from me at 2pm (according to the screenshot). I sent him back a text of my call list with no call, end of story.

So, if I take this at face value (and not as some elaborate scam which I don't understand), someone called this guy from "my" phone number. Also, I think it's relevant that the guy was local, based on his area code.

  1. What are the risks?
  2. Should anything be done about this?
  • 52
    spoofing callerID is trivial, and is a common way for spammers to get people to pick up. In North America they often try a number with the same first 3 digits as your own after the area code, in an attempt to trick you into thinking a neighbor is calling you. – Steve Sether Oct 31 '19 at 14:35
  • 5
    Cloning is very unlikely. I can't say I'm terribly familiar with modern cell phone hacking but IIUC they would have had to clone your SIM, which requires physical access. – Steve Sether Oct 31 '19 at 16:22
  • 2
    Possible duplicate of Someone is making random calls spoofing my phone number. What to do? – Michael Oct 31 '19 at 23:35
  • 2
    There are a bunch of prank call websites that let you do this sort of thing... Nothing new. – multithr3at3d Nov 1 '19 at 3:16
  • 3
    @SteveSether I understand your point but the comments are only for "ask[ing] for more information or suggest[ing] improvements" as said in the text box before posting one. It also explicitly says "avoid answering questions in comments". – Captain Man Nov 1 '19 at 18:09
87

Someone placed a call to 'the guy', and spoofed the caller id to make it look like the call came from your phone number. Caller-id spoofing is not uncommon, and there are even VOIP services that actually offer this as a 'feature'. 'Junk callers' often spoof the caller id to make the call look like a 'local call', so as to make the recipient more likely to answer the call. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caller_ID_spoofing for more info.

  • 32
    I was sure that spoofing was made very difficult due to new tech in place. I see that I was very, very wrong. – schroeder Oct 31 '19 at 14:51
  • 7
    I know the feeling well. – mti2935 Oct 31 '19 at 16:30
  • 24
    @schroeder - US regulators could very easily stamp out spoofing, but for some reason they don't. – Hot Licks Oct 31 '19 at 23:55
  • 6
    @HotLicks probably because none of the corporations they're in the pockets of have an interest in having it stopped... – Austin Hemmelgarn Nov 1 '19 at 10:21
  • 16
    @HotLicks - one thing that's often overlooked: there's an actual need for spoofing in a non-spam/scam context. If a doctor calls a patient using their cell phone, they absolutely need the context of that call to be coming from their office number - otherwise, they're handing out their personal cellphone number to every patient they call. Any profession where the person needs to frequently work out-of-hours, but wouldn't want their clients to have their personal cell, is the business case for caller-ID spoofing. – Kevin Nov 1 '19 at 15:23
5

Thinking in other way that this is kind of Social Engineering attempt.

When he(stranger) sent you the screen shot of his phone call list which might be a tailored (using photoshop tools) one i guess. But what you sent to him(stranger) is real screenshot of your call list. In my opinion we don't need to send our call list to stranger. In fact its better call your Telecom provider and cross check.

  1. What are the risks?

Ans: Risk is social engineering attempt to steal some info\activity about you.

  1. Should anything be done about this?

Ans: Call Telecom provider for cross check about this unusual activity.

  • 2
    This is really unlikely, since the OP deliberately asked Stranger to send the screenshot and then voluntarily (without prompting) sent back their own screenshot. If there was any suggestion that the Stranger had prompted the screenshot exchange, then maybe, but Stranger calling randomly and claiming to have received a call and counting on that to generate a screenshot exchange seems...not plausible. – user3067860 Nov 1 '19 at 14:23
  • 4
    Both I and the stranger blacked out other calls. I also took a screenshot of the edited file in case any edit history is stored. – VSO Nov 1 '19 at 14:59
  • 1
    I think you meant to say the screenshot might be doctored. – muru Nov 3 '19 at 3:45
4

Should anything be done about this?

I think you should do something about it. In particular, I think you should report it to a regulatory agency so they have the data point.

If you are in the US, then you can file a complaint with the FCC. The FCC handles spoofing where someone pretends to be you. Head over to FCC Consumer Complaints, Form 39744. It is a web form. For Phone Issue select Unwanted Calls. Then, for Unwanted Calls Sub Issue select My Own Number Is Being Spoofed.

You might be able to file a complaint with the FTC, too. The FTC complaint form is at Do Not Call Complaints. But the FTC usually handles unwanted incoming calls, and not the additional games like having your own number spoofed.

Carriers like Verizon are mostly (completely?) useless. I once received 7 calls in 90 minutes from a miscreant pretending to be me. The miscreant used my name and landline number to call on the landline. I reported all of the calls to Verizon's Unlawful Call Center in realtime and initiated a call trace for each call. Verizon did not block any of the spoofed calls even after they were reported to the company.


What are the risks?

Speaking in the context of the US... Law enforcement rarely investigates these matters unless there is a threat of physical or bodily harm, so you probably don't have to worry about law enforcement.

You might find your phone number is blocked by software like NoMoRobo. That's because called parties may report a call from your name and number to the FTC. The FTC maintains the Do Not Call (DNC) Registry and publishes the database at Do Not Call (DNC) Reported Calls Data Files. Services like NoMoRobo use the FTC data files.

I report every call like that to the FTC so the FTC has a data point. Usable data is paramount for policy and enforcement decisions. If the FCC and FTC don't have the data, then there is nothing to act upon.

Reporting to the FTC cuts both ways. I am also in the FTC database from miscreant spoofing my name and number.


If interested, it is not just you being spoofed. Apple is currently taking a beating in the Northeast United States.

I wrote software to log all incoming calls (in addition to killing calls, initiating call traces and filing FCC and FTC complaints). It has been running for about 8 months. Here is Apple's results:

sqlite> SELECT name,number,date FROM call_log WHERE name = 'APPLE INC' ;
APPLE INC|9492551500|2019-07-08 12:05:00
APPLE INC|2122263126|2019-08-08 17:59:00
APPLE INC|2122263126|2019-08-08 18:40:00
APPLE INC|2122263126|2019-08-08 19:12:00
APPLE INC|6784020725|2019-08-09 12:36:00
APPLE INC|6784020725|2019-08-09 13:09:00
APPLE INC|7049720980|2019-08-09 13:52:00
APPLE INC|7049720980|2019-08-09 14:32:00
APPLE INC|7049720980|2019-08-09 15:14:00
APPLE INC|6468023800|2019-08-09 15:51:00
APPLE INC|5126340520|2019-08-30 18:29:00
APPLE INC|5126340520|2019-08-30 19:12:00
APPLE INC|3236179800|2019-09-12 21:21:00
APPLE INC|8184779010|2019-10-23 19:47:00
APPLE INC|8184779010|2019-10-24 11:41:00

Those are real Apple Store phone numbers. It got so bad for Apple when you call one of their stores the welcome message alerts you of the spoofing.

Extrapolating my results for Apple, imagine 15 calls in 4 months x 182 million land lines + 240 million cell phones. That's nearly 6,330,000,000 (6.3 billion) spoofed calls claiming to be from Apple in four months.

  • 1
    I report every call like that to the FTC... Really? For me that would be thousands of calls each year. Or perhaps you were referring only to calls that spoof your own number. – James Reinstate Monica Polk Nov 2 '19 at 14:06
  • 3
    @James - Yes, every suspicious incoming call. I wrote some Python scripts that use Selenium to file the online complaints. See, for example, How to detect a button.click() failure in Selenium? And it is a couple thousands calls a year for me also. – user220954 Nov 2 '19 at 14:12
3

Spoofing is likely, especially if a business user previously had the number.

And if it is spoofing, they are a likely a cold call centre, so people calling you will be annoyed.

What country are you in? In Australia we have an odd situation for the (02) area code, where a lot of numbers have been issued as (02) 6141.... for some reason.

Fast forward to a Senior Citizen getting a call on their mobile phone from another mobile phone, generally 041......

Caller Id, as it should, packs on the country code and displays +6141.......

Ethel or Sid or whatever their name is, reads this as 6141... and dials it on a land line. Of course they don't know the "+" is an IDD prefix.

I worked somewhere that had a large number of these affected land line numbers, and we would get at least one a day. It was a good test of the intelligence of the phoned person.

  • The information about (02) 6141 numbers being issued widely is false - calls from these numbers are made using caller ID spoofing. – fabspro Nov 1 '19 at 8:29
  • I can assure you that blocks of these numbers are used by Government departments, so yes some may be spoofed. But I have actually asked these callers what number they were dialling and there were extra digits. It is very common for spoofed numbers to be taken from directories. It adds credibility and adds to the "OK" count on reporting websites. – mckenzm Nov 2 '19 at 10:25
  • These scammers are always fascinating. Thanks for sharing your thoughts @mckenzm – fabspro Nov 23 '19 at 4:13

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