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9/1/2004
03:31 PM
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Caller ID Spoofing Service Debuts

Star38's service disguises who is making the call but will only be sold to collection agencies, private investigators, and law-enforcement personnel.

A service introduced Wednesday can send misleading information to phones that display Caller ID information, which is used to identify who is placing a call before the called party answers the phone.

The service will only be sold to collection agencies, private investigators, and law-enforcement personnel, says Jason Jepson, founder and CEO of Star38. "This is not for public use," he says. "We just opened today and we've gotten 600 inquiries so far."

The service will let collection agencies and others avoid breaking laws that prohibit them from using phony phone numbers when they try to collect money, Jepson says. His service will provide them with a legitimate phone number--but one that can't be associated with the actual caller, he says.

Potential customers must go to the Star38 Web site and download an application. They must provide copies of business licenses and other proof that they are the types of businesses that Jepson wants to serve. Once that information is verified--a process that can take seven to 10 days--a customer is granted access to the Star38 service.

For a collection agency to use the service, it would log on to the Star38 server and telephone-switching system and fill out a form with the target's phone number. The Star38 system places the call and, if answered, automatically routes the call to the collection agency's call center or other specified phone number. If the target isn't home and calls back later, the call will be automatically routed to the collection agency's phone.

Jepson says he has purchased several phone numbers from local telephone companies; one of these is what pops up on the Caller ID screens used by many consumers to see who's calling them.

"We are providing collection agencies with another option," Jepson says. "Our service will completely document each call, including how long it took, when it was made, and data like that." The service costs $20 per month, plus 7 to 10 cents per minute for phone charges.

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