March 20, 2006
Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist has issued investigative subpoenas to a website company that allegedly sells calling cards that allow parties to display fraudulent numbers on caller ID, a practice known as "spoofing."
Crist said spoffing allows stalkers, identity thieves, home intruders, telemarketers and possibly worse, to hide their identity when making calls to consumers.
One of the companies being investigated allegedly sells a virtual "calling card" for $10 that provides 60 minutes of talk time. The user dials a toll-free number, then keys in the destination number and the number the caller wishes to display on caller ID.
The company's website also provides optional voice scrambling that can alter a person's voice, such as from male to female or adult to child, the Attorney General's office said.
"People use caller ID to protect themselves from unwanted calls and contact from those who would do them harm," said Crist. "It is wrong for individuals or businesses to deceive our citizens, and this cannot be allowed to continue unchecked."
The spoofing investigation comes on the heels of the Attorney General's filing of lawsuits against two Florida companies 1st Source Information Specialists, Inc. and Global Information Group, Inc.
The companies are accused of deceiving employees of wireless telephone companies, such as Cingular Wireless and Verizon, into selling private telephone calling records of Florida consumers. Investigators with the Attorney General's Office believe this practice may have been assisted by spoofing.
The subpoenas were issued under Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Chapter 501 in Florida Statutes. Telemarketers are required by Federal Trade Commission regulations to make either their company's phone number or the phone number of the company or charitable organization they are representing visible on consumer caller ID systems.
Other concerns raised by spoofing include identity theft, as individuals can use spoofing to pose as a bank and steal personal account information from their unsuspecting victims.