Washington, D.C.— U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), along with Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Martha McSally (R-AZ) introduced the Anti-Spoofing Penalties Modernization Act of 2019 today to aid Americans who are being inundated with robocalls. Their bipartisan legislation would double the penalties for illegal caller-ID “spoofing,” a tactic scammers often use to trick victims into answering their phone calls.
“In Maine alone, residents received an astonishing 93 million robocalls last year,” said Senator Collins. “Putting an end to the scourge of illegal robocalls will take an aware public, aggressive action by regulators and law enforcement agencies, and a coordinated effort at every level of our telecommunications industry. The enhanced penalties called for by our ‘Anti-Spoofing Penalty Modernization Act’ are an important tool in the fight. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.”
“Robocalls are more than just a nuisance, and we must go after the criminals who use robocalls to harass seniors. That is why I am proud to join Chairman Collins in introducing new legislation to update existing penalties for illegal spoofing,” said Senator Sinema.
Senator Hawley said, “One of the top complaints I have heard from Missourians is that nonstop robocalls constantly interrupt their daily lives. Even worse, the fraudsters behind these robocalls are harassing and scamming seniors. I fought these invasive robocalls as Missouri’s Attorney General and am proud to join this bipartisan effort to combat them in the United States Senate.”
“The millions of robocalls that Michiganders receive are not just annoying – but in many cases are outright scams. Unfortunately, scammers are using ever-sophisticated scams to better ensure their robocalls are answered,” said Senator Peters. “I’m proud to help introduce bipartisan legislation to crack down on these robocalls and increase penalties for illegal spoofing.”
“Scamming seniors and veterans is reprehensible,” said Senator McSally. “Scammers must be held accountable and feel the consequences of posing as the IRS, FBI, or any other legitimate entity. We have a solution that will increase penalties for those who take advantage of others.”
“Spoofing” of caller-IDs is commonly used by criminal robocallers to mask their true identity. Con artists use this technique to boost their credibility and fool victims by making it appear as though they are calling from the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the local police department, or another legitimate source.
In 2010, Congress passed the Truth in Caller ID Act, which prohibits the use of misleading or inaccurate caller-ID information to intentionally defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value. The use of this deceptive tactic has exploded since then, however, underscoring the need for stronger deterrent measures.
The bipartisan Anti-Spoofing Penalties Modernization Act would double the penalties for illegal spoofing under existing law, increasing the fine per violation from $10,000 to $20,000 and increasing the maximum fine from $1 million to $2 million. The legislation would also extend the statute of limitations for these violations from two years to three years.
Senator Collins unveiled the Anti-Spoofing Penalties Modernization Act at an Aging Committee hearing today that examined efforts to combat unwanted robocalls. It was the 23rd hearing her committee has held in the past six years on scams affecting older Americans. Senator Collins is the Chairman of the Aging Committee and Senators Sinema, Hawley, and McSally are members of the Aging Committee.