While SMS is a new technology, spoofing has been around for a while. Remember when your friends pranked you by saying your crush sent you a love letter? Then, you found out it was actually your friends who wrote the letter. That’s a classic example of spoofing. Nowadays, instead of papers, people get spoofed on SMS. Since SMS is a casual and convenient communication channel, it’s susceptible to being vulnerable to spoofing.
SMS spoofing is a technique when people replace or alter the originating mobile number of a text message to an alphanumeric text of their choice. In other words, people change their sender ID, phone number, or even both.
Sadly, SMS spoofing falls in a gray area when it comes to legality. While it sounds like it doesn't have good intentions, there are a lot of legitimate reasons for spoofing text messages. Consequently, spoofing has a varying degree of legality globally.
For example, a company altering its sender ID from a random phone number to their company name is a legitimate use of SMS spoofing. Similarly, you can spoof and send text messages to replace the originating phone number with a relevant one. Many companies running SMS marketing campaigns do this to use their company name instead of a phone number.
Nevertheless, spoofing can also be used to attack unsuspecting people. Targets receive SMS messages under the assumed identity of other companies or familiar phone numbers. In fact, spoofing is perhaps the ideal tool to conduct fraudulent activities. It masks the identity of the sender and replaces it with an identity they’re trying to imitate. As a result, a lot of scammers try to phish for personal information such as bank account or credit card details using SMS spoofing attacks.
If you receive a so-called "official message" on your mobile phone asking for financial information, remember not to respond. Moreover, do not click on links if you suspect the sender is phishing.
Now, you might think that these instances create a solid ground to illegalize SMS spoofing. However, the gray area of spoofing lies within the anonymity of senders. What if someone wants to whistleblow without having their identity exposed? What if you wanted to pull a harmless prank on your colleague? At the end of the day, there’s no black or white—as long as you’re not spoofing with malicious intent.
Nevertheless, all this makes it even harder for authorities to detect and deal with spoofing. But, one thing is clear—SMS spoofing used under false pretenses is illegal in many countries and can get you in a lot of trouble.
There is no clear legislation about SMS spoofing in the majority of countries. Some have proposed the ban of spoofing altogether, while others are in a negligent state regarding the issue. Australia is a notable example that has completely prohibited the practice of spoofing.
In countries where spoofing is not regulated by national authorities, carriers have taken the matter into their own hands by banning the anonymous use of spoofing.
No one can be 100% safe from spoofing. Whether scammers attack you or use your number for spoofing, you should always report it to your carrier and law enforcement, who can track where the messages came from. This way, you can prevent SMS spoofing in the future. You can also download SMS blockers to make sure that you won’t receive an SMS from the scammer a second time.
There are many SMS spoofing apps that offer this service. Some of them are free; others offer paid services. By design, spoofing web applications are easier to use than command-line programs on operating systems like Linux. This makes them more accessible to the masses, resulting in a lot of daily traffic.
Nonetheless, we advise you to not proceed with this practice and not to cross any lines that might get you in legal trouble. Additionally, be careful if you receive a message with a spoofed sender ID.
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