HUNTERDON CONGRESSMAN Lance Reintroduces Anti-Spoofing Act

Measure aims to stop scammers from ripping off Americans through caller ID scheme known as spoofing

U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Joe Barton (R-TX) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ) today reintroduced legislation to combat a widespread telephone scam that continues to defraud millions of Americans, particularly seniors, veterans, immigrants and other vulnerable populations.

The Anti-Spoofing Act of 2015 would target “caller ID spoofing,” a growing scheme in which con artists disguise their phone numbers to make it appear that they’re calling from a government agency, bank, police department, credit card company, pharmacy or hospital. Once unsuspecting recipients answer the call, scammers ask for and often receive the person’s personal or financial information, then use it to commit fraud.

Among the popular spoofing schemes is the Internal Revenue Service scam in which the fraudster displays the real IRS phone number on an individual’s caller ID. The scammer claims to be an IRS employee and threatens arrest unless back taxes are immediately paid with a debit card or wire transfer.

“The problem of caller ID spoofing has gotten out of control,” said Meng, Barton and Lance. “Millions of Americans continue to get ripped off by con artists and scammers who perpetrate this despicable crime, many losing thousands of dollars. It is way past time to reign in this disgraceful practice and this legislation would go a long way towards accomplishing that critical goal. We call on the House and Senate to pass our bill as soon as possible.”

This legislation aims to combat spoofing by strengthening the Truth in Caller ID Act. The measure would:

  • Broaden the law to prohibit spoofing by foreigners. Presently, many U.S.-based companies spoof calls to U.S. residents but originate them from outside the United States;
  • Broaden the law to include new internet-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services that enable callers to make outgoing-only calls from computers and tablets to mobile and landline phones, a practice that has contributed significantly to the spoofing problem; and
  • Broaden the law to include text messaging, a spoofing method that fraudsters use with increased regularity.

The House passed the bipartisan Meng/Barton/Lance bill last Congress, but it did not move in the Senate. This legislation is expected to be referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.