U.S. Reps Attempt to Quash Caller ID Scam Known as "Spoofing"
Dec 6, 2013
Bipartisan group of lawmakers sponsor legislation to end the displaying of bogus names and numbers that trick millions of Americans into answering their phones or replying to text messages
Practice widely used by scammers and unscrupulous telemarketers
U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Joe Barton (R-TX) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ) introduced legislation today that would reduce the number of fraudulent phone calls and texts that millions of Americans constantly receive. The scheme consists of fake names and phone numbers being displayed on recipients’ caller IDs in order to trick them into answering the phone or replying to text messages.
The practice, known as “spoofing,” is widely used by scammers and unscrupulous telemarketers. They use technology to disguise their numbers and identities to make their calls appear legitimate. Deceitful telemarketers employ the practice to dishonestly sell their merchandise, and fraudsters use it to obtain personal or financial information by misrepresenting themselves as, among other things, government agencies, hospitals, banks, pharmacies and credit card companies.
“The purpose of caller ID is to know the identity of the person who is calling or texting you,” said Rep. Meng. “But all too often, the name and number that is displayed is not the actual name and number of the caller or texter. Unfortunately, it’s often some telemarketers attempting to pull a fast one or con artists trying to rip off unsuspecting recipients, especially seniors. It’s time to finally stop this outrageous and deceitful practice, and our legislation would go a long way toward putting an end to it. I urge my colleagues in Congress to swiftly pass the measure.”
“In today’s world, more and more Americans are using mobile phones as their main sources of contact and the Truth in Caller ID Act, as it stands, does not protect these users from all forms of misleading caller identification information,” said Rep. Barton. “As technology increases and more applications are developed, we see more people communicating messages sent through text. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will protect Americans from fraudulent calls and text messages from both inside and outside the United States. I am proud to work with Reps. Meng and Lance, and I hope we can soon make this legislation the law of the land.”
“Increasingly, bad actors are altering or manipulating caller ID information--known as caller ID spoofing--to further a wide variety of malicious schemes, from identity theft to placing false emergency calls to first responders,” said Rep. Lance, a member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee. "This legislative fix will give U.S. consumers a defense against unwanted telemarketers, spammers and potential fraud.”
In 2009 Congress passed, and the President signed into law the Truth in Caller ID Act, which prohibits caller ID spoofing when it is used to defraud or harm Americans. But spoofing technology has evolved since the law was enacted, and criminals have found ways to circumvent it.
The legislation sponsored by Meng, Barton and Lance, entitled the Anti-Spoofing Act, would improve the Truth in Caller ID Act by:
1. Broadening the law to prohibit spoofing by callers outside the U.S.
2. Broadening the law to include new internet-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services which enable callers to make outgoing-only calls from computers and tablets to mobile and landline phones
3. Requiring that legitimate spoofing providers adequately inform users of all applicable laws
4. Broadening the law to include text messaging.
The bill is expected to be referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee. A copy of the measure can be viewed by clicking here.