"I'm Getting A Phone Call From THE WHITEHOUSE!!!": Can You Really Modify How Your CallerID Appears?
Let's say you want your Caller ID information to not be shown when you call someone. Of course, you can ask your carrier to disable Caller ID. But if you usually want it enabled you can just dial *67, before the number you're calling, to disable it PER CALL. Unless you're calling a toll-free number, either method will result in the called party seeing the word RESTRICTED instead of your info.
But what if you want your Caller ID to display something other than the truth. Maybe you're a physician calling a patient back and you don't want your patients to have your personal number; understandable. Maybe you don't want your paramour's spouse to know who's calling (or who called); again understandable but sad. Maybe you're a telemarketer and you don't want people to disregard your call when they see "BOILER RM BOYS INC" displayed on your phone, so you'd like something else displayed, like COUNTY SHERIFF or LOTTERY WINNERS ALERT; sad and unethical. What ARE you to do?
Word on da street has it dat youse can change your phone's Caller ID wit a simple app. What a beeooteeful woild.
Dr. Telecom got wind of this and almost had his techno-world rocked. I mean, Caller ID is generated by your phone or cellular provider, not your phone itself, right? My trusted business associate, Zac, said he'd witnessed this personally; if true, this would have unraveled the very fabric of my knowledge of how phones work. Here's a previous post of mine, for the curious, describing how Caller ID works.
Where would we be without The Internet and search engines? Researching this by mail and phone calls would've taken days. But I got my answers in a couple hours online. The bottom line is, as I thought, that you cannot change your the Caller ID that your phone or wireless account generates. But you CAN change what people see by dialing through a 3rd party service. This is known as Caller ID Spoofing or Faking.
The one that Zac had seen is called CallerIDfaker.com by BSD Telecom. You download an "app" to your cellphone or PC. You enter your phone number (I used my desk phone), the destination phone number (I used my Google Voice number which calls my cell phone), and the number you'd like to have appear on the called party's phone (I used 234-567-8901) and hit ENTER. They have the gall to call this silly thing "The Best Damn Mobile Application Ever" when all it does is to tell their phone switch to expect your call and how to treat it. Next the "app" gives you a number to dial. I called it. Their server did, indeed, then connect me to my Google Voice number and the Caller ID was just as I had entered it. Using this system FREE limits your calls to 2 minutes and has other limitations. You can pay to get other services like having your call recorded and sent to you.
It's really pretty sleazy: they have a contest for the "best" phone pranks and proudly display them on the home page. Hopefully someone else does this sort of thing strictly for legit purposes (like the doctor scenario). Another provider, http://www.spyville.com/, works the same way but you call their toll free number. Hopefully the federal Truth In Caller ID Act of 2010 (passed by HR 4/2010, slated for Senate 2/2011) will make the downside of Caller ID Sppofing painful enough to deter most people from it.
If you don't want your number to be seen, just use *67 before the number. It's free and involves no downloads - when Zac download the app it locked up his phone - and nobody needs to know your real number.