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Lawmakers take aim at camouflaged robocalls

April 12, 2019 GMT

How many spam calls do you get a day on your cell phone?

Many of them look like local numbers, but they’re really sales calls.

State lawmakers filed a bill Thursday to try to crack down on phone scammers.

The scammers mask their real phone number so that the call shows up on your caller ID as a local number, or from a family member or even from yourself.

It’s called neighbor spoofing - using an alias number or name to hide the caller’s actual identity. Making it look like a local call or a call from someone you know increases the likelihood that you’ll answer it.

The practice is already illegal under federal law, but robocallers are using it anyway. And it seems to be getting worse all the time.

The proposed “Truth in Caller ID Act” would ban telemarketers from using fake numbers or names at the state level. Callers would have to use their own information or the information of the business they’re representing.

House Speaker Tim Moore is one of the bill’s sponsors. He said it’s the issue he heard more about on the campaign trail last year than any other.

“It really annoys folks, and it’s unfair and it’s deceptive,” Moore, R-Cleveland, said. “So we’re going to do what we can. You’re right, there is a federal component with the FCC. But the laws appear to also allow the states to regulate this. And we think it’s an issue, and we want to do what we can.”

Most of these spam calls don’t originate in the state or even in this country - but when they do, state officials can’t really go after them for breaking FCC rules. If it’s a state law, they have a little more leverage to pursue the scammers.

The bill is likely to be heard next week. It’s expected to pass with strong bipartisan support.