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Parents: Beware of "Spoofing"

Spoofing is a new form of identity assumption that is growing in popularity with many teens, and it can have criminal consequences. If you are a parent and you have not heard of spoofing, please read on. Spoofing enables someone, via downloading an app, to enter someone else's phone number and name into the app, so that when that person makes a call it looks like the person whose identity has been assumed is the one who is calling.

Apparently this is happening more frequently and the possible consequences are nothing short of alarming. I had a crash course in spoofing because this is happening to my daughter and her friend. The caller ID shows the girls' numbers, and the caller is identifying herself as the girl whose number she assumed (for example, Jane Doe's number and name pop up when the phone rings, but Jane Doe is not the one making the call and it is not coming from her number).

If you or your child is the victim of spoofing, you need to do two things. First, you need to report it to the local police. They cannot really do anything specific other than take a report, but at least it will be documented in case something should happen and your child is accused of doing something s/he did not do.

Next, you need to call your cell phone carrier. They have ways to find out who is doing the spoofing, via a subpoena of the phone records. Once the number is found from where the calls originated I am not sure how the carrier proceeds, but I will write a follow up blog once I know.

The most important lesson to learn from this new scary identity assumption tactic is to speak with your children about it. Let them know that this is a crime, and that if it happens to them they need to let you know immediately. Many kids may think this is just something fun, but they need to know there can be consequences and that this can be considered criminal.

I will be speaking with the Carlsbad Unified School District next week to try and implement a program that gets this information out to all middle school and high school aged children. I will also be speaking with local officials so that we can educate the general public about this growing problem.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

jbcumming February 24, 2014 at 10:00 AM
Fascinating. Thanks for the alert.
Andrea Bearden-Kuhns February 24, 2014 at 11:21 AM
After reading this I wonder how many people will be downloading that app - or has it been pulled off market?
Rachel LaMar, J.D. February 24, 2014 at 12:13 PM
Andrea, I know that is a potential problem...but people need to know this is happening. It is really a Catch-22. Maybe by making this public knowledge the carriers will pull them off the market. If we sit back and do nothing our children (or adults too) could suffer.
glenn bernard February 24, 2014 at 02:13 PM
I love people who are genuinely concerned about others, and will readily sound the alarm. However, I become skeptical when the possible good samaritans require payments for their speaking engagements. So, is the above article a genuine warning, or a commercial ad for services?
Gem February 24, 2014 at 03:11 PM
What a world we live in. Even though I don't have kids living with me anymore this is still good information to know.

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