Lance bill cracking down on scammers passes House

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance, of the 7th Congressional District in New Jersey, recently secured passage of his Anti-Spoofing Act through the U.S. House of Representatives. The Anti-Spoofing Act outlaws “spoofing,” a practice where con artists disguise their phone numbers to make it appear that they are calling from a government agency. The measure passed during National Consumer Protection Week.

“It is time for the despicable crime of caller ID spoofing to end,” Lance said after passage on the House floor. “Millions of Americans continue to get ripped off by con artists and scammers who especially target senior citizens, veterans and immigrants. Disguised as a legitimate governmental agency, these criminals trick people into making erroneous payments or providing financial information. Victims have lost thousands of dollars. This measure strengthens our laws and tightens loopholes fraudsters have successfully exploited.”

The Anti-Spoofing Act was included in bipartisan legislation that reauthorized the Federal Communication Commission.

In addition to government entities, scammers have reportedly spoofed banks, police departments, credit card companies, pharmacies and hospitals. 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.

The legislation earned the support of Somerset County Sheriff Frank Provenzano. Provenzano’s office reported that scammers cloned the phone number of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office and impersonated the sheriff’s staff in an effort to steal residents’ personal information.

“I feel that this legislation will give us the tools to fully prosecute the people who take advantage of the unsuspecting public,” Provenzano said in a press release.

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 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.