Posted: Jan 13, 2011 6:35 PM by Carolyn Cerda
A cell phone application is causing concern for local officials. The app is marketed as tool to keep caller's information private, but it may actually help some criminals steal personal information.
State Police and the Better Business Bureau say the "Phone Gangster" app is being used by criminals to gain personal information. It's called "spoofing" which officials say is similar to "phishing" for information through emails.
"It's not the product itself. It's what you do with it," said Sharane Gott, with the BBB of Acadiana. "That's spoofing...it's going around right now. Crooks are using someone's good name to get personal information."
Here's how it works: The app allows the caller to change the number that shows up on a caller i.d. It also allows the caller to change their voice. This means, someone could call an unsuspecting victim, use a bank's phone number on the caller i.d. and pretend to be a banker asking for your information.
"Don't believe everything you see and hear," said Gott. "It might not always be what you think it is. Never ever give out personal information, always verify."
Other than potential victims, state police are also warning criminals.
"If you are spoofing someone and make threats to them, you could face some serious charges," said Trp. Stephen Hammons.
Hammons says even though the app is most often being used by teens playing pranks on one another, they run the risk of taking it too far. He says their special crime unit is already investigating cases involving spoofing.
"It could actually be just a funny joke. But, something that may not appear to be very harmful to everybody else, may actually be a felony and get you in trouble for a long time."
For tips on how to prevent being a victim of "spoofing" and "phishing," visit www.acadiana.bbb.org.