Avoid Caller ID spoofing

We've all been there. The phone rings during dinner, or when you're putting the kids to bed, and it's a telemarketer. Now, the Federal Trade Commission is cracking down, and needs your help.

Lindee Rochelle has always been dialed in to the National Do Not Call registry. But about two times a week, a telemarketer rings her home office.

"You're prepared for a business call, and when you get something like that it's just like you were interrupted for absolutely no good reason," said Lindee.

Lindee checks her caller ID before picking up the phone, but has noticed that some telemarketers aren't who they appear to be…

"I will go to the Internet and search that phone number, and oh my goodness, look at that forum full of people complaining about that number," she said.

Lindee is a victim of Caller ID spoofing. It happens when a caller disguises their name and phone number to make it look like they're someone else. Now, the Federal Trade Commission has a warning: some telemarketers are using spoofing to get around the National Do Not Call registry, fraudulently pitching things like credit cards, mortgage relief, and debt relief. William Maxson with the FTC calls it a "serious and growing problem."

"Each month when we look at our top number of complaints for Do Not Call violations, spoofed caller ID name and number are always at the top," said Maxson.

Under the current rules, telemarketers are required to display accurate caller ID information. But when a call is spoofed, digits often show up as "dead," meaning they aren't real. Other times, the name of the caller is generic. Like "card services" or "customer service."

"They use the name or number of a recognizable national brand or organization to give themselves a veil of legitimacy," said Maxson.

That's why the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse says it's important to keep a log of the spoofs you receive.

"The date. The time. Was it a male or a female voice? What did they say? We recommend actually taking a photo of what your caller ID is showing you," said Amber Yoo with the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

Then, report what you find to the FTC. They're fighting back by actively investigating complaints.

"We've already brought nearly a dozen cases against companies that are engaged in caller ID spoofing," said Maxson.

You can file a complaint with the FTC by logging on to www.ftc.gov, or by calling 877-FTC-HELP. Maxson also recommends reaching out to your state attorney general, or your phone company.