An Overview of Caller ID Spoofing and the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009

Caller ID SpoofingIn this post you’ll see how to be effective and compliant with the Truth In Caller ID Of 2009.

The Law: Truth In Caller ID Act Of 2009.

Wikipedia: “Caller ID spoofing is the practice of causing the telephone network to display a number on the recipient’s Caller ID which is not that of the actual originating station.”

The law doesn’t use the word spoofing, right? Right. Clearly, the the Act is intended to make caller id spoofing illegal (unless it’s done by law enforcement agencies, which are exempt from the Act, or is specifically authorized by court order).

What’s in the Law?

“(1) IN GENERAL- It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States, in connection with any telecommunications service or IP-enabled voice service, to cause any caller identification service to knowingly transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identification information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value, unless such transmission is exempted pursuant to paragraph
(3)(B)” (3(B) exemption is available only to law enforcement agencies or anyone else that gets a court order specifically authorizing caller id spoofing — for example, a battered women’s shelter might seek such an order).

The language to key in on for auto repossessions and investigations is “…misleading or inaccurate caller identification information”.

Section 8 in the law defines “caller identification information” as:
CALLER IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION- The term ‘caller identification information’ means information provided by a caller identification service regarding the telephone number of, or other information regarding the origination of, a call made using a telecommunications service or IP-enabled voice service”.

Note that this law doesn’t preclude you from using an alias, or an innocuous pretext. In fact it doesn’t even address that concept. Set that aside.

The law allows you to block your caller identification information:
Nothing in this subsection may be construed to prevent or restrict any person from blocking the capability of any caller identification service to transmit caller identification information”.

What’s the FCC’s take on the Law?

On January 26th 2011, The Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a letter to the FCC. This letter was sent to the FCC as part of the FCC’s review of the law on June 22nd, 2011. Here’s some of the letter:

“Nor should spoofing be understood to include transmitting a number related to a private branch exchange (PBX) or the main telephone number of a business’s network in place of an extension.”

The law needed to accommodate the legitimate needs of services like ours or other VoIP (voice over internet protocol) services. We’re not spoofers and neither are they. The FCC added this language to the law:

1.”Information regarding the origination (of a call). The definitions of “caller identification information” and “caller identification service” in the Act and in the rules we adopt today both use the phrase “the telephone number of, or other information regarding the origination of a call.”

They also defined “information regarding the origination” to mean any: (1) telephone number; (2) portion of a telephone number, such as an area code; (3) name; (4) location information; (5) billing number information, including charge number, ANI, or pseudo-ANI; or (6) other information regarding the source or apparent source of a telephone call”.

The FCC went on to explain:
“The definition we adopt today mirrors the proposed definition, but adds “billing number information including charge number, ANI, or pseudo-ANI” to the types of information that constitute “information regarding the origination.” We add these types of information to the definition of “information regarding the origination” in response to commenters’ concerns about the importance of transmission of accurate billing information, including charge number, ANI and pseudo-ANI, to caller identification services used by emergency services providers”.

The FCC added this language so that VoIP service providers and services like BellesLink – with its tracing software – that allow users to activate a local number anywhere they offer numbers, aren’t included as spoofers.

The law makers were way ahead on this one because they heard from call centers, from online retailers, and from other legitimate telecommunications providers such as us.

In that same letter the DOJ recommended that: “…caller ID spoofing services to make a good faith effort to verify that a user has the authority to use the substituted number, such as placing a one-time verification call to that number”.

What this means for You

We allow you to use “other” numbers than BellesLink numbers for the caller ID. To verify that other number is yours, and therefore verify you have the legitimate right to display the other number on the caller ID, we place a call to that other number you want to display when you make calls. The person answering the phone has to enter a code displayed on the BellesLink website.

Related Posts:

Spoofing and The Truth In Caller ID Act of 2009. What You Need to Know.
An Overview of Spoofing and the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009
Spoofing. How it Violates the Law.
What is NOT Spoofing. What the Truth in Caller ID Act Says.