Telemarketers use caller ID phone cloning to steal your telephone number

(NBC) - The phone is ringing off the hook for Florida resident Stephanie Dale.

Dale's evenings and weekends are marred by constant calls from angry people asking, "Why did you call me? What do you want? What are you selling?"

Unaware of the reasons for such accusations, Dale discovered from these callers that they had been receiving calls -- calls she never made -- from her home phone number.

"I explain to them that this is a house and there's nobody here but me and my dog," said Dale. "Some say 'OK,' others get a little irate and don't believe me."

Dale contacted her phone provider, AT&T, who told her she was a victim of a practice known as "Caller ID-spoofing" and that the company had only limited capabilities in combating the problem, given its technically "legal" status.

According to the Florida Attorney General�s office, "Spoofing" -- known also as phone cloning -- is not illegal and is a scam employed typically by telemarketing firms to circumvent the Caller ID system by falsifying their calling party number information.

"There's been people who've called me who said that my number is on there multiple times, its not just once," said Dale. "So I think that's why they end up calling the number back because they see it's a phone number and not like an 800 or 900 number and they want to know who or what they want."

Dale's dilemma is not uncommon. In fact, it's relatively accessible to anyone on a number of websites to deliberately purchase credits and gain entry into a list of phone numbers. With those, the buyer can make phone calls that will appear to be coming from the number they purchased.

Thus, Dale's number was allegedly used by the telemarketers to disguise themselves to people across the country who thought she was calling and not them.

For Dale, the only options were to either continue to explain to callers the situation or change her number, neither of which appeased her.

"I don't want to change my number" she exclaimed. "I don't see any reason why I should have to suffer any more than I already have."

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