Caller ID Spoofing Ban is Bad for Business

The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2010 may impact otherwise legitimate uses of caller ID spoofing.

By Tony Bradley, PC World |  Unified Communications, legislation


Caller ID is a great tool for managing business communications and improving productivity and efficiency. However, the way that some businesses employ caller ID may cross the line drawn by a new law--the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2010

Caller ID is sort of like a precursor--albeit in reverse--to the broader concept of presence that forms the backbone of unified communications today. Caller ID puts control in the hands of the call recipient to determine the source of an incoming call and make a judgment regarding whether that call is something worthy of interrupting other ongoing tasks, or if it is something that can just go to voicemail.

The useful aspects of caller ID have been bastardized through malicious spoofing, though. Bill collectors, prank callers, and private investigators are a few of the abusers of caller ID technology. Your average person would screen or ignore a call from "Acme Collection Agency", but would eagerly answer a call from their own mother.

Spoofing the caller ID information to appear to be from someone the recipient would want to speak to is an effective trick to lure people to answer the phone--which is why Congress felt compelled to act and pass the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2010.

The primary effect of the bill is summarized by "It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States, in connection with any real time voice communications service, regard less of the technology or network utilized, to cause any caller ID service to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller ID information, with the intent to defraud or deceive."

The bill specifically allows individuals to block their own outbound caller ID information--enabling them to guard their own privacy by not sharing their home or mobile phone number with third parties. However, practices that have legitimate purposes, employed by some VoIP services--like Google Voice--and by some organizations to replace the actual caller ID information with an alternate number could be construed as violating this new law.

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