Caller ID spoofing: New bill aims at scams that can be tragic

home phoneLast year an 81-year-old man in Tennessee took his own life after paying fees to collect what he thought was a Jamaican lottery jackpot. Calls that seemed to be from Jamaica’s 876 area code were all part of a scam.

A new bill backed by one of Florida’s U.S. Senators aims to fight such scams by keeping up with advancing technology.

Folks may like to think they they will not be victimized by calls from numbers they don’t recognize, but scammers know how to “spoof” numbers to make it look like a legitimate government agency or company is calling. The caller ID may show up as a chill-inducing actual IRS number or the real number for the local sheriff’s office or Microsoft.

“Far too many Americans are still being ripped off by scammers using spoofing technology,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. “This bill should help turn the tide and better enable consumers and law enforcement to stay ahead of the fraudsters.”

A statement from Nelson’s office noted he filed legislation signed into law in 2010 that prohibited scammers from altering the caller ID information on calls made in the U.S. The Spoofing Prevention Act of 2016 filed this week is designed to expand protection to text messages, calls made over the Internet and calls originating from a foreign country, officials said.

Consumer agencies warn even if the caller ID looks real, never send money to claim a prize or avoid a threatened “arrest” because the genuine organizations do not operate this way.

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