U.S. Reps. Joe Barton (R-TX), Grace Meng (D-NY), 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.
"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, Chairman Emeritus of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "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."
"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."
"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.