Senator Ben Hueso of California’s State Senate introduced a bill on Monday that will attempt to put a stop to the practice of spoofing, specifically where the spoofed calls come from an area code local to the consumer. The bill is called the Consumer Call Protection Act of 2019.
The bill’s preamble sets the stage for the current lay of the land and what it proposes to do:
Existing federal law, with certain exceptions, makes it unlawful for any person within the United States, in connection with any telecommunications service or internet protocol enabled voice service, to cause any caller identification service to knowingly transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identification information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value and authorizes the chief legal officer of a state, or any other state officer authorized by law to bring actions on behalf of the residents of a state, to bring a civil action on behalf of the residents of the state in an appropriate district court of the United States to enforce this prohibition.
This bill would require a telecommunications service provider, on or before July 1, 2020, to implement specified protocols or similar standards to verify and authenticate caller identification for calls carried over an internet protocol network. The bill would authorize the commission and the Attorney General to bring an action pursuant to the above-described federal law and would authorize the commission to work with the Attorney General for the purpose of enforcing that law.
The bill states that consumers have experienced a rise in deceptive robocalls and that action is needed to protect Californians “from imposters using telecommunications to defraud consumers.”
Yesterday, insideARM published an article about a court decision that found local number outpulsing is not a deceptive practice. The timing of this new California bill is perfect to explain a key difference: local number outpulsing and spoofing of local number are two separate practices and should not be confused.
Local number outpulsing involves making calls from a phone number with a local area code to the call’s recipient. The number used is usually owned or registered to the company using it. If the consumer were to call the number back, it would result in a call to the company.
Local number spoofing is something entirely different. Rather than using a local number owned by or registered to the company making the call, spoofers commandeer a local phone number for a brief period of time in order to place calls that are difficult to trace back to the spoofer. If the consumer calls this number back, they are not going to call the company who place the spoofed call – they are going to dial whoever owns that number.
The difference here is ownership of the number. If the number is registered to the company, then such calls are not deceptive according to some courts. If the number is not registered to the company, then that’s a different story.