I read the story in the Kansan about the new phone scam where caller ID indicated the call came from a local business. This is not an isolated incident by any means. Another news story I saw recently on TV had a law enforcement number being displayed as the source of some scam calls. In the case in the Kansan, AT&T told the business whose number was spoofed that "there was nothing they could do about the issue at this time."

While I'm sure that is literally true - there is no cure AT&T can instantly provide - it obviously doesn't have to stay that way. To do their billing, phone companies must know the source of each call. Those companies need not remain with a caller ID system that allows spoofing, when they know the true source. Fixing this problem should just be a matter of implementation of a better system by the industry (no one company can do it alone). It will no doubt cost the companies a little money that they would rather not spend, but it should be mainly a one-time cost. And a fix is needed. While there are reasons to allow caller ID blocking at times, I cannot find a case where a call should show a number as its source without the consent of the owner of the number displayed. (A company using one caller ID number for its many lines would be an example of consent of the owner.)

Current federal law makes caller ID spoofing by telemarketers illegal, but that's not enough. The problem is scammers, not just telemarketers, and scammers (many in foreign countries) will not be deterred by laws making spoofing illegal, since they are criminals. The solution is technological, and we should insist our phone companies implement one with a deadline in the near future.

— Leo Chouinard Newton