Caller ID Spoofing: The Anti-Customer Experience
In the fall of 2016, as the world turned its eyes toward the American presidential election, a marketing rogue named Adrian Abramovich was running his own peculiar robocalling campaign. Over the course of three months, the operation he led placed a mindboggling 96,758,223 calls to unsuspecting recipients—nearly 1 million a day. Those who answered would hear a prerecorded message instructing them to “Press 1” to learn more about an “exclusive” vacation deal offered by a reputable travel company like Marriott, Hilton, or TripAdvisor.
Instead, they were spoofed. Hoodwinked. Bamboozled.
Those who pressed 1 were funneled from Abramovich’s auto dialers to one of several travel agencies, who were serving as fronts for unsavory call centers peddling timeshares and vacation packages to a variety of Mexican travel facilities. An agent would come on the line to confirm that they were an adult (often making sure they were at least 30), before handing them off to a salesperson who would browbeat them into purchasing stays at unfamiliar hotel chains with no connection to the aforementioned brands.
During a review of 80,000 of these calls, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) concluded that they were all spoofed. The phone number shown on the caller ID of each robocall matched the area code (first three digits) and central office code (second three digits) of the person they were calling. However, Abramovich did not own the numbers. They were faked.
Is It Local? Caller ID Spoofing vs Dynamic Caller IDThere is a reason that Abramovich centered this abusive lead generation campaign around caller ID spoofing since he knew that people are much more inclined to answer a call that appears to be local. For most people, an incoming call from an unknown number with an 800 or 877 prefix is often regarded with suspicion. They will usually decline or ignore the call. Seeing a local area code and central office code will let people drop their guard, thinking it might be someone they know or a call from a possible client or business lead.
This is human psychology, but there are ethical ways you can employ a local caller ID strategy to improve call response rates. Dynamic Caller ID allows call centers to customize the information each recipient sees when they receive a call. A Dynamic Caller ID system gives businesses the power to display a number that uses a local area code instead of your business’ toll-free 800 number. However, unlike caller ID spoofing, this is a number you actually own. If a person were to call your business back at this number, your phones would ring. This provides the same power as a local caller ID.
There are multiple differences between caller spoofing and Dynamic Caller ID because spoofing is manipulation and the intention to defraud. Dynamic Caller ID actually facilitates compliance with FCC rules, because anyone you call can return your call. FCC regulations require that a consumer be able to easily return a call and either speak with a live representative or leave a voicemail for your company, even if the purpose of the returned call is to request being placed on a do-not-call list. This kind of transparency is a surefire way to build trust among potential customers.
Caller ID Spoofing is the Anti-CX (Customer Experience)At one point, Abramovich’s spoof-centered robocallers were spraying 44,000 calls per hour. Those on the other end of those calls were angry and vocal, registering thousands of complaints with the government. When the FCC lowered the boom, it recommended a record fine of $120 million for Abramovich. Among the multiple and repeated violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), there were three central offenses:
- Making prerecorded voice messages and auto dialed calls to emergency telephone lines
- Making prerecorded telemarketing calls to residential phone lines without prior express written consent, absent an emergency purpose
- Making prerecorded messages and auto dialed calls to cell phones
We’ve designed our TCPA Compliance Engine to ease the burden of remaining in the FCC’s good graces. It includes Vox CNI (Cellular Number Identification), which helps scrub your lists in real time while generating the reports you need to audit your compliance performance. This engine has been working overtime, generating over 50 million requests in the second half of 2017.