An update to the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 approved by the House of Representatives adds language protecting consumers from receiving calls and text messages on cell phones from a phone number that is deliberately falsified.
"Spoofing" is a tool often used for illegal practices such as phishing for personal information. People and companies claiming to be debt collectors sometimes engage in spoofing.
The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 prohibits caller ID spoofing with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Violators can face fines of up to $10,000 for each violation.
The main parts of the updated bill include:
Broadens current law to include text messaging.
Broadens current law to prohibit caller ID spoofing from foreigners. This is crucial because U.S.-based companies now spoof calls to U.S. residents with intent to do harm, but originate the calls from outside the U.S.
Expands current law to include new Internet-based Voice Over IP services that enable callers to make outgoing-only calls from computers and tablets to mobile and landline phones. The technology was not developed when the Truth in Caller ID Act was adopted.
Reps. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) authored the updated bill, known as the Anti-Spoofing Act of 2014. The House of Representatives approved the bill by voice vote on Sept. 9.
The bill will next be considered by the Senate.
"Scammers are using technology to work around an outdated law and the practice of spoofing needs to be stopped," Barton said. "This bill will broaden protections for consumers by holding spoofing companies outside the U.S. accountable, stopping abusers from using text messages, and including IP-enabled voice services."
Meng had addressed the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology in July with the proposed bill update.
"Fraudsters adapt to new technology which means the law needs to as well," Lance said. "By outlawing Caller ID spoof texting we are giving consumers another layer of protection from scammers, spammers and unscrupulous telemarketers. It's a simple fix but a new and important safeguard, especially for senior citizens."