Have you ever even heard of caller ID or phone spoofing? If you have, we are sure you can commiserate with us. If you haven’t, read on.
Our phone has been ringing off the hook for the past 2 days. We have received over 200 calls. And we are not happy.
Unfortunately, our phone number has been spoofed. What IS that?
We had never heard of such a thing until it happened to us. As it turns out, thousands of people have already been victims of this.
In our case, calls are being placed to people from what appears to be our phone number, except we aren’t making the calls. How is that possible you ask? Well, scam artists have hijacked our phone number and through special technology, our number shows up on the recipient’s caller ID.
Most people have never heard of this and so they don’t accept the idea that the number they see on their caller ID is not the one being used to harass them.
As a result we have had a host of irate people calling us, threatening us in not so nice language, because they believe we are the ones behind the relentless phone calls.
Unfortunately we are as much a victim as they are. Everyone has heard stories of people who lose money to scammers but this is another side to some of the scams, a side that no one talks about. Innocent businesses or people are at risk for having their names sullied by frustrated individuals who try to exact misguided revenge for the harassment they experienced.
From the messages that have been left on our voicemail, it seems that the nature of the calls are quite varied. Some of the callers say they are being bothered by people who claim to be from the IRS requesting owed money. One woman even thought she had won $9000. What seems to be the common thread is that the calls are incessant.
This experience has been extremely disruptive to us because we don’t know which calls could be coming from people who are interested in booking our villa.The volume of calls is such that for the time being we are routing all calls to voicemail as we cannot keep up with the number of people calling our number. Phone messages about a stay at Mais Oui Tennis and Spa villa will be returned as quickly as we can.
We have changed our recorded message to inform everyone that our phone number has been “phone spoofed” and are directing people to contact us through our website – www.MakeItJamaica.com.
Despite the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009, which makes it a crime to use a fake number to commit fraud or cause harm, there aren’t adequate laws or mechanisms to prevent this from happening. As surprising as it is, if you google “phone spoofing” or “caller ID spoofing”, you will see that there are actually companies that provide this service! How could this be, you might ask. Well, phone spoofing itself is not illegal. It is only illegal if it is done with malicious or harmful intent.
We have reported the matter to the FCC. In response, we got an email thanking us for reporting the issue but there is nothing they can do. The phone company cannot help either because the culprits are not using their actual phone lines.
We appreciate the understanding of those callers who actually took the time to listen to our voicemail message and left us encouraging and sympathetic messages.
Our good name is on the line by activity beyond our control. We run a legitimate Jamaica villa rental business and have nothing to do with these unscrupulous people. If you ever decide to take a trip to Jamaica please know that we will deal with you honestly because that is who we are and have always been.
Can phone spoofing happen to you?
Yes it can. These scammers make up random numbers to use so it doesn’t matter whether you are on the Do Not Call List or not. It also doesn’t matter if you have an unlisted or unpublished number.
What can you do if phone spoofing happens to you?
It appears that you, like us, have two options, neither of which will stop the annoying phone calls that are being made: You can either change your number or wait it out. It appears that to avoid getting caught these scammers only use the spoofed number for 1-2 weeks. Hopefully that will be the case with us. We have used our phone number for marketing the villa for 16 years and we should not have to change this number because of illegal actions by others.
You can report it to the FCC (www.fcc.gov/complaints or 888-225-5322) like we did; but, at this time, it appears they are impotent. The culprits seem untraceable. It is worth reporting these incidents (if only to document that you are not the perpetrator yourself) even though nothing can be done now. An increase in complaints to the FCC potentially can help support passing laws to fix the problem.
If you are receiving the harassing phone calls, what can you do to stop them?
There is actually some hope for you; but it will take some doing on your part, and might not work..
Search the internet for “Special Information Tones” or “SIT”. This is a series of three tones indicating that a call has failed. Think of the tone that you hear just before the recorded message comes on to say that a number is no longer in service or that all circuits are busy. That tone is a SIT.
Record one of those tones just before your message on your voicemail. Since these con artists are using auto-dialers, the SIT signals their dialing device to remove your number from their list of working numbers.This should help decrease the number of annoying calls that you receive.
Fair warning, this may or may not be a good long term solution because you could end up missing automated calls that you actually want to receive. Our son’s school system, for example, sends us automated messages with updates every few months. Weigh the risks versus benefits before trying this approach. Perhaps consider it for a short term solution. You will have to let your friends and family know that you have done this because most people who hear the tone will hang up before the message as the tone will cause them to believe that there is something wrong with your phone.
A good source of more information and for SITs to download is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_information_tones
So, we hope that by sharing our experience we can help someone else. Also, we want our guests and potential guests to know why they are probably reaching voice mail only for now. We are here, ready and willing to help you plan your next vacation to Jamaica!
Think and dream Jamaica.
Sherry, Darrell & Darrian
Considering a visit to Jamaica? Contact us today for more information about, Mais Oui Tennis & Spa Villa, our boutique 8-BR ocean view Jamaica villa rental experience in beautiful Discovery Bay, Jamaica. Perfect for multi-generational families and groups.
Visit our website: http://www.MakeItJamaica.com
Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MakeItJamaica
Give us a call: 866.624.7684 (toll free) or 914.709.0457
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Sherry & Darrell, owners of Mais Oui Tenis & Spa Villa in Discovery Bay, Jamaica, consider themselves unofficial ambassadors for Jamaica. They look forward to using their insider knowledge to help guests create priceless vacation memories. Feel free to say hi!