“Attention scammers and deceitful telemarketers: We are one step closer to stopping you from using caller ID spoofing to rip-off unwitting, vulnerable consumers such as the elderly, immigrants and veterans,” said Meng. “I thank my colleagues in the House for joining me in trying to end this shameful and malicious practice, and I now call on the Senate to quickly follow suit.”
This past tax season, con artists used caller ID spoofing to dupe tens of thousands of Americans – including South Asian Americans – into thinking that they were being contacted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The phone scammers posed as IRS officials demanding immediate payment for unpaid taxes, and threatened to arrest the victims if they did not immediately pay with a debit card or wire transfer. Often times, the fraudsters disguised their numbers to make it appear that the calls were actually originating from IRS. The scheme forced the IRS to warn the public, and similar scam alerts were issued by other affected government agencies such as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In addition, scammers have impersonated law enforcement by using the phone numbers of police departments – including the NYPD – to swindle consumers.
In 2009 Congress passed, and President Obama 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. Meng’s legislation seeks to tighten and strengthen the Truth in Caller ID Act.