HIGHLAND, Utah – A Utah woman received countless angry calls for more than two weeks after becoming the latest victim of a little-known crime: spoofing.
Debbie Christensen of Highland said her phone number and name were stolen and used by a telemarketer, and she was only able to stop the calls by getting an unpublished number.
She told KSL-TV that she was baffled when she started receiving calls on Jan. 29 from upset people who wanted her to stop calling them.
“It was unbelievable. I felt like a call center,” she said.
The callers, who were from Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties, told her they were getting high-pressure sales pitches for everything from natural gas stocks to chimney sweep service.
Some callers told Christensen that they had been contacted dozens of times. It sounded like the calls were coming from a call center because there was a lot of background noise, they said.
Christensen later learned she was a victim of spoofing: when callers deliberately falsify the telephone number or name on caller ID to hide their identity.
She said once she told the callers what was happening, they were sympathetic.
“People were so understanding,” she told KSL. “(They said), ‘Oh, that’s too bad. I’m so sorry, and I’m sorry that I bothered you.’ ”
She contacted her phone carrier, Comcast, which had never heard of spoofing. She called the Secret Service, which does not comment on investigations.
“They figured it was outside the county, and it was not within their jurisdiction,” Christensen said. She estimated she spent more than 20 hours trying to get the ringing to stop.
Now she has another concern.
“I just hope we don’t get disgruntled people looking us up and coming to get what they were promised because we have nothing to do with it,” she said.
The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 prohibits caller ID spoofing for the purpose of defrauding or otherwise causing harm. If someone suspects they have been a victim of spoofing, they can contact the Federal Communications Commission at 1-888-CALL-FCC or file a complaint at www.fcc.gov/complaints.