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Don’t Be Yourself: Caller ID Spoofing


My childhood best friend and I had a Friday afternoon ritual: prank calls.

My favorite gag was calling up girls from our class and pretending to be the Spice Girls. We’d put on our awful English accents and pretend that our weekly victim had won the chance to have a sleepover with the Spice Girls. Cruel, I know.

Worse, though, is the fact that our gimmick worked. Week after week, gullible girl after gullible girl believed that we were the Spice Girls.

Then… circa 1997, there was an influx in the sales of a certain device: the caller id.

And the unfortunate prevalence of caller ids made our Friday afternoon delights implausible. After a few “I know it’s you, Sarah! The Spice Girls don’t have a 7-1-8 area code!”s, fun Fridays came to an end.

But today, the caller id has lost its power. Rather than an influx in caller id sales, there has been a current influx in caller id spoofing websites.

Caller id spoofing? It’s every prank caller’s godsend, and just about everybody else’s worst enemy.

These websites allow you to manipulate the name and number that appears on the caller id of the person you’re calling.

It’s quite simple. You go to one of the many websites which offer this service (some are free, others require a subscription and fee), type in the information you’d like to appear on your victim’s caller id and then call said victim through the website’s service.

Seriously, my adolescence would’ve been much easier if these websites had been around. That time I wanted to sleep over a boy’s house, I could’ve called my dad from “my friend’s house” to say I was sleeping there. Or when I wanted to tell my crush that his slut of a girlfriend was cheating on him, I could’ve called pretending to be the other guy (yea, some of these sites even have voice changers).

Ugh, I could’ve wrecked havoc.

But that’s the problem with these services: while I would’ve used caller id spoofing to ruin a few teenage lives, these sites can’t distinguish between catty pranks and outright schemes.

Con-artists are using these sites to steal identities. By calling from “banks” and “credit card companies,” thieves can trick people into giving away sensitive information needed for identity theft.

And, kiddies, identity theft is not cool. Someone once ordered $500 worth of flowers to be delivered to Russia on my credit card. It kind of sucked.

That being said, these websites—when used for harmless (or not) prank calls—are pretty cool. And, you know the Spice Girls are supposed to be having a reunion. I’m feeling a prank call comeback…