Mississippi Phone Number Lookup

What Is Mississippi Phone Spoofing?

Phone spoofing is a practice where a caller manipulates the Caller ID that shows on the receiver Caller ID display, such that it reflects a different Caller ID other than the caller’s actual ID. There are various ways a person's Caller ID can be spoofed, and top on that list is the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology or PRI lines. Software programs and mobile applications alike provide spoofing services for users to spoof their Caller IDs. Persons that spoof calls often attempt to trick their targets into giving away valuable information, such as social security numbers, mothers’ maiden names, or passwords used for fraudulent activities.

In the United States, Caller ID spoofing can only be used for legitimate purposes. Entities such as law enforcement officers and medical practitioners legitimately spoof their Caller IDs. Law enforcement officers use it to facilitate investigations, hiding their Caller ID from crime suspects. On the other hand, medical practitioners spoof their Caller IDs to reflect their hospital's Caller ID instead when calling patients from home.

When used to carry out criminal acts, such as scamming a person, it is considered illegal. Some of these scammers go as far as phone spoofing to impersonate legitimate organizations or government agencies such as the Police Department or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). According to the United States’ Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009, this form of spoofing is illegal. Illegal phone spoofing attracts a jail sentence or a cash fine, depending on the state. Below are some examples of unlawful phone spoofing:

Impersonation Scams: This involves scammers taking on the identities of government agencies or legitimate organizations’ employees to deceive individuals into paying a certain amount of money or disclosing personal financial information. The Mississippi Department of Public Safety warns residents of a mail scam involving scammers posing as personnel from the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security. It attempts to trick consumers into sending money for a non-existent “clearance fee.” These scams are usually components of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scams and are prevalent in the United States.

Telemarketing Scams: These scams involve scammers concealing their Caller IDs and targeting individuals with spoofed robocalls to convince them to purchase fake or even non-existent goods and services.

Harassment: Caller ID spoofing is sometimes used to prank individuals. When these calls become incessant or the supposed prank gets out of control, it can lead to harassment, identity theft, financial ruin, or bodily harm. Pranksters sometimes conceal their real Caller ID to reflect that of emergency services such as fire services, police, etc. After which, they could call in bomb or fire threats to their target’s homes or workplaces.

The instances of phone spoofing mentioned above are illegal, and persons that fall victim to any of them can report to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by filing complaints.

Why is Phone Spoofing Illegal in Mississippi?

Phone spoofing is illegal in Mississippi, especially when such acts are done with the intent to defraud, wrongfully obtain anything of value or cause harm. Although there are instances where phone spoofing is legal, it is a known fact that phone scammers take advantage of phone spoofing to commit fraudulent and criminal acts such as financial scams.

Scammers are in the habit of trying to convince individuals to divulge personal or financial information under the guise of being a government agency or a corporate entity. These scammers frequently change numbers, making it much more difficult for law enforcement to bring them to justice.

The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 is the federal statute that regulates phone spoofing. Under this law, it is unlawful to cause any caller ID service to deliberately transmit misleading or false caller ID information with the aim of defrauding, causing harm, or wrongfully obtaining anything of value. The law makes exceptions in limited instances; for certain law enforcement purposes. However, for persons guilty of illegal spoofing, punishment ranges from forfeiture to fines.

How Do You Know If Your Number Is Being Spoofed?

If you consistently receive calls from people in continuation to conversations that you did not initiate, then there is a possibility that your number has been spoofed. Another indication that your number is being spoofed is when you receive calls from persons inquiring about certain products or services that were earlier marketed to them by a caller that called with your number. Avoid answering any calls from these numbers, and if you must, make them understand that your telephone number was spoofed and you did not make any calls to them. You can also record a message on your voicemail informing callers that your number is being spoofed. Suspected spoofing cases should be reported to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by filing a complaint.

How Can You Protect Yourself from Illegal Spoofed Calls?

Caller ID helps avoid unwanted phone calls by displaying callers’ names and phone numbers. However, the caller ID feature is sometimes manipulated by spoofers who masquerade as representatives of banks, creditors, insurance companies, or even the government.

It can be difficult to identify spoofed calls. However, Mississippi residents can take certain measures to avoid falling victims to these spoofed calls fraudsters. Some of these include:

  • Avoid giving out sensitive information such as passwords, account numbers, Social Security numbers, date of birth, PIN, and other identifying information in response to unknown calls or any suspicious call.
  • Be cautious if you are being pressured for information immediately.
  • If you receive a suspicious call from a person claiming to be from a legitimate organization or government agency, hang up and call the phone number on the company or government agency’s website to confirm the legitimacy of any request from a person claiming to represent the said company or government agency.
  • Register your number on Mississippi No-Call List online, by mail, or over the phone by calling the toll-free number: 1-86NOCALLMS (1-866-622-5567). You can also register your number on the National Do Not Call Registry to reduce unsolicited calls.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The form is called the consumer complaint form.

Does Mississippi have Anti-Spoofing Laws?

Yes, Mississippi has a Caller ID Anti-Spoofing Act, which makes the following provisions:

  • A person may not input or cause inaccurate information to be entered into a telephone caller ID system with the aim of deceiving, defrauding, or misleading the call recipient.
  • A person may not place a call conscious of the fact that false information was entered into the telephone caller ID system with the intent to deceive, defraud, or mislead the recipient of the call.

There are certain exceptions to the law, and these include:

  • The blocking of caller ID information
  • Any law enforcement agency of the federal, state, county, or municipal government
  • Any federal government intelligence or security agency
  • A telecommunication, broadband, or voice-over-Internet service provider acting only as an intermediary for the transmission of telephone service between the caller and the recipient

Anyone that violates this act is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, which will be subject to a fine of not exceeding One Thousand Dollars ($ 1,000.00) or shall be imprisoned in the county jail not exceeding one (1) year, or both.

Furthermore, following the FCC’s directive, from June 2021, all voice service providers must make caller ID authentication available on their networks using the STIR/SHAKEN protocols. These protocols verify caller identification information from where the call originates from before it finally reaches the receiver.

What Are Common Phone Scams Involving Caller ID Spoofing in Mississippi?

The common phone spoofing scam schemes in Mississippi reported to the authorities are:

  • Telemarketing scams
  • Charity and religious organization scams
  • Phishing (a fraud scheme where hackers try to convince you to open an email and click on a link)
  • Medicare insurance scams
  • Bank scams
  • IRS scams
  • Government grant scams
  • Lottery/ Ticket scams
  • Grandparent scams