How To Use a Fake Number to Call Someone (Spoof a Phone Number)
Call spoofing has enabled people to fake the return number that is shown by Caller IDs for many years now, and the ability to “spoof” a phone number has become widespread.
Spoofing, in simple terms, just means that the number shown on someone’s caller ID is not the actual number that is placing the call. As opposed to a fake number, spoofing a number lets callers appear to be a number more familiar with the recipient.
Common Reasons to Call Someone using a Fake Number
People spoof caller ID numbers for a wide variety of reasons.
- They perform a classic prank call to their neighbor or friend.
- They protect their privacy and phone information from being captured and sold to third parties.
- They want a secondary number captured by recipients.
- They want to reserve their actual phone number for their close family and friends while using a secondary number for “social media” friends and other parties.
- They call a debt collector with a spoofed number to avoid repeated calls in the future.
- They investigate a number they are curious about.
- They attempt to confirm or investigate a “potential” scam call.
- They use it to actually scam others by faking the number so the recipient thinks it is someone local, or a person or business they know.
With more and more people starting to ignore calls from unfamiliar numbers and sending them to voicemail automatically, it has made pulling off a classic prank call trickier. However, spoofing a number that the victim recognizes, has become a popular scenario for scam artists and pranksters alike.
In 2020, it’s more important than ever to practice safety when it comes to your personal identification. While it may be difficult to change your phone number on all services or registrations to a spoofed number, you can still protect your identity by making sure that your new number spreads to as many services as possible. This way, you will receive return calls on a number that can be easily disposed of if anything were ever to go wrong with the intended caller.
Is Spoofing Your Phone Number Legal?
Yes. At its core, there’s nothing illegal about the act of spoofing caller ID with a false number in the United States. It is your intentions that generally determine the legality of your actions.
- If you hide your real number to contact a business to protect your personal information, it’s legal.
- If you fake your phone number to investigate a potentially risky call, it is legal.
- If you get a second phone number for specific contacts, it is legal.
- If you hide your real number to prank a caller, it is often legal, but your actions may be considered illegal depending on location and circumstances. It can be an act of falsifying information in an attempt to harass or abuse, etc.
- If you spoof your phone number to scam the recipient, it is questionably legal, but your intentions and actions are definitely illegal!
- If you call from a disposable number to threaten the recipient, it is possibly illegal due to your intentions and the falsification of caller identity (trickery). However, the action of threatening the recipient is definitely illegal.
For legitimate, non-criminal motivations, you are in the clear. So using a spoofed number to trick your friend into thinking that the President is calling him on his birthday may be more or less funny depending on your sense of humor, but it is legal.
If you spoof your number to trick him into thinking he’s talking to his credit card company, and you attempt to get his card details, it is a crime.
How Can I Call Someone with a Fake Number?
There are basically three different ways to spoof a number or call.
- You can register for a permanent number through a call forwarding website or app.
- You can get a temporary number from sites more oriented towards “burner” numbers.
- You can use various apps to enter a false phone number that displays on the recipient’s caller ID, while actually just using your own number to make the call.
How Do I Actually Spoof a Call with a Fake Number?
You can’t personally stop the identity leaks from happening, but by using a spoofed number, you can make the fallout a little less catastrophic. Spoofed numbers can come in two different varieties, depending on what you’re looking for. Permanent numbers don’t change or recycle and can be held by you for as long as you’ll need them.
In fact, they’re a real number, just connected to a phone you don’t answer if they’re connected to a phone at all.
Disposable numbers, on the other hand, are designed to be cycled through, used for a certain duration before being tossed in the trash. Whether or not that’s something you’re looking to use is up to you, and really, the type of number you’ll be using really depends on the scenario you find yourself in. Still, we’ll cover both options below, with some great suggestions for both free and paid spoof numbers.
Permanent Fake Numbers
While you still have to dedicate some time to managing your fake number, as you would your real number, you’re secure if your false number ever leaks online. These permanent services usually offer some amount of call blocking and restricting features. Being able to ensure your number is always in your grasp means that you can place your false number on more important documents, giving it out to your dentist or doctor for appointments, or placing it on job applications to protect your standard account service.
Permanent number services are also typically cheaper than their temporary counterparts, as you’ll discover in the next segment.
The first service you should take a look at for a secondary spoof number is, unsurprisingly, Google Voice. Voice is for someone looking for a secondary, web-based number that doesn’t cost anything. Google offers a desktop and mobile web client, along with dedicated clients for both iOS and Android that are sleek and regularly updated.
Google Voice allows you to use your assigned secondary number to forward calls to your primary number, all while making free phone calls throughout the United States. Your assigned number is able to be customized as well, so you can select a specific area code throughout the US, or type the last-four digits to make it easy to remember.
Like Google Voice, Talkatone is built around providing alternate numbers to call and text US-based users for free (and to call and text numbers outside the United States for small charges).
Talkatone even lets you change this number when you need to. This makes the service bit less permanent while simultaneously giving you more flexibility should your number get leaked online. The downside to Talkatone is ads within the app.
Textfree has been around for nearly a decade, and you can still grab a free number through their service by signing up through the website or mobile application. You can choose your area code and memorable number patterns when signing up for a number. You can keep the number as long as you want, though you’ll need to use it once every 30 days to place a call.
There are also paid, premium options available, including Flyp, Hushed, TextNow, and Sideline.
Disposable Fake Numbers
Sometimes, you just need a number for one-time use or for a certain period. Disposable numbers are great. You can call a business or an individual, hang up the phone following your conversation, and toss the number away, leaving the person without a way to contact you again. Unfortunately, disposable numbers rarely come without a fee attached.
Burner is an app that automatically gives you a new number whenever you need one. Your number is real and can be used to call and text from within the app, and the caller ID displays your Burner info instead of your actual phone number. The app is smooth and responsive, and you get a free number for seven days upon installation. Depending on how many numbers you need and how much you’ll be using the app, Burner can get really expensive, really fast.
Flyp offers support for multiple secondary numbers, making it easier to cycle through plans. Of course, paying the monthly fees can get expensive rather quickly. If you plan on holding multiple numbers at once, this spook call service might get costly. Still, the ability to mirror local area codes while placing a call is ideal for someone looking to spoof numbers with only one account, and with great audio quality.
Hushed offers both permanent and disposable numbers. The app provides the ability to dispose of numbers at any time, so long as you’re paying for the service.
Hushed stands out with its end-to-end encryption when talking to other users. This makes the service the most secure phone number app on the list, and that may be important if you’re trying to hide your identity. All numbers are disposable. There’s no credit card needed to sign up for an account, and calls can be sent and received from anywhere. Hushed is also one of the more affordable paid plans.
Online Spoofing Services
There are a number of services online that provide spoofed calling numbers on a one-shot basis. That is, after you’ve registered at the site and paid the subscription fee, you can enter the number you want to call and the number that you want to appear on Caller ID.
The call will go through on your smartphone or landline, or via your web browser. You can use as many different numbers as you wish and can assign a new number for every call you make if you want.
SpoofCard is reputable, and they are one of the oldest spoofing providers in the industry. SpoofCard offers a number of features, including the ability to artificially disguise your voice and even change its gender presentation. The service also provides the ability to record calls for later playback (priceless if you’re planning on pranking your friends), the addition of background noises like traffic, a nightclub, or police activity for added realism, and the ability to send calls directly to voicemail.
You can also dial multiple recipients at once, or add more people on your end of the call to listen in. SpoofCard also allows you to send spoofed SMS text messages. The service is definitely optimized for pranksters.
SpoofCard offers a 60-second free trial, offers a web version, as well as an Android app and an iOS app. Charges are based on bulk minute packages, paid as a one-off purchase, or as a monthly subscription. SpoofCard supports calls to non-US destinations but uses more credits per minute.
SpoofTel has the ability to change your voice pitch and add soundboard audio to the background. SpoofTel offers SMS text message spoofing as well. Costs are based on a per-minute basis, in addition to added features like voice changing and recording.
Spoof Call does not offer app versions; all calls occur via the service’s website. The service has some unique features, including call recording, voice changing software, limited background noises, group calls, and a text-to-speech converter with multiple language choices. Spoof Call is based in Europe, but the credits they sell are valid for US calls (among other locations).
What is FCC Stir Shaken?
Since 2015, a group of telecom engineers from major carriers started developing a way to stop call spoofing in its tracks. In recent years, spoofing has gone mainstream. The widespread nature of call spoofing has begun to undermine public trust in the integrity of the phone system. The engineering teams are relying on two new systems to stop it: STIR (Secure Telephone Identity Revisited) and SHAKEN (Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using tokens).
The idea behind STIR and SHAKEN is to give every phone a certificate of authenticity, a digital signature, that becomes the sole source of caller ID information. Caller ID would become trustworthy once more. The basic idea is ridiculously complicated, but here is a simplified explanation. A person places a call. That call’s data stream would contain the certificate (in digital form) that verified that the call was coming from the number it claims to be coming from.
As the phone call passes through the circuitry, the carrier would check the validity of the certificate using a public/private key system. A call whose certificate failed to pass validity would either get blocked or display a warning message in the caller ID field.
FCC mandates that all voice carriers effectively implement STIR/SHAKEN authentication by June 30, 2021.
There are other resources available at TechJunkie to help you combat call spoofing efforts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a way to tell if a spoofed number is calling?
It’s highly improbable that you’ll know a number is spoofed until you answer the phone call. If someone is spoofing a number that you’re familiar with, you probably won’t know that’s what’s happening until you pick up the call.
If the number calling is unfamiliar to you but spoofed using the same area code as your phone number, you can do a reverse lookup on the phone number. If the number is spoofed, the search results will turn up no information. Also, calling a spoofed number back will likely result in a busy signal rather than actually getting to talk to someone.
How do I avoid being scammed?
Spoofed numbers can be incredibly tricky, it gives any scammers the upper-hand. If you receive a phone call from a company asking for any personal information, it’s best to hang up and call the company from a phone number that you’re familiar with.
AT&T for example had an issue with their customer service number being spoofed. The scammers would offer bill credits but they’d need the account Passcode to access the account. Most reputable companies will never ask you for any information if they call you.
The FCC warns that scams resulting from spoofed numbers usually happen after a natural disaster, or to gain access to your credit information.