Have you ever had a telephone call when you checked the Caller ID and decided it was a call you wanted to take, only to find out when you answered the call, it was not the caller you anticipated? If this has happened to you, you have been the victim of Caller ID spoofing, notes the North Dakota Attorney General's Office.

Caller ID spoofing is the practice of using the telephone network to display a number on the recipients Caller ID display which is not that of the actual originating phone. The fraudulent uses of this practice are increasing.

Gaining access to Caller ID spoofing capabilities is as easy as logging onto one of several well known websites, creating an account, providing a credit card number for fees associated with the call (for as little as $10 per 60 minutes), entering your pin number, and entering any number you wish to spoof. You can even disguise your voice if you wish, choosing either a male or female voice!

While there are legitimate uses for Caller ID spoofing, here are some uses that are not considered legitimate:

• Voicemail Hacking Caller ID spoofing can, in some cases, be used to access voicemail boxes with some providers. Many phone providers have taken steps to prevent this from happening on their systems.

• Wire Fraud scammers have figured out that businesses providing wire transfer services rely on Caller ID to verify that the caller is calling from their home phone numbers. The scammers will call to initiate a wire transfer with the Caller ID of the person they are pretending to be, and will use that persons credit card or bank account to transfer funds to another account - most often in another country.

• Phone Phishing phishing scammers are using Caller ID spoofing to gain personal information from victims over the telephone by appearing to be from the victims bank or credit card company, etc. Phone phishing is fraudulent and is illegal.

• Threats Caller ID spoofing has been used to phone in bomb threats, kidnapping and other threats to law enforcement. Law enforcement takes threats seriously and investigations cost thousands of dollars in resources until the threat is proven to be a hoax.

• Prank Calls Caller ID spoofing is often used in making prank calls to friends and family. While these calls are often harmless, they can cause alarm to the recipient of the call.

While there is currently no way to block your phone from Caller ID spoofing, here are some common tips to remember when you receive a telephone call:

• Dont trust anyone. Anyone you do business with already has the information they need on you. They will not call and ask you your social security number or to verify your account number.

• If you receive a call from your bank, credit card company etc., write down the number on the caller ID, hang up and redial their number.

• Dont assume it is who you think it is, even if the Caller ID indicates it is a relative, your childrens school or the local police department. You may wish to exercise some caution. For instance, you could hang up and call the number back.

• If you have additional questions regarding Caller ID spoofing, contact the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) consumer hotline at 1-888-225-5322.