KEYSER, W.Va. – House of Delegates Committee on Government Organization Chairman Gary Howell, R-Mineral, today said he plans to draft legislation that would make it illegal for telemarketers to use false caller ID information to hide their identity.
He plans to introduce a bill in the next regular legislative session that would ban “spoofing,” which is the term used for the practice of falsifying caller ID information.
Most phones today use caller ID technology to help people see who is calling before they decide to answer the phone. However, some telemarketers, creditors, financial institutions and other solicitors have been using technology that deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity.
Chairman Howell said he and many of his constituents have been annoyed after answering phone calls that appear to be from local numbers but end up being unwanted telemarketers calling from distant locations.
“People think they’re receiving a call from someone in their hometown, only to get irritated by a pushy telemarketer trying to sell something you don’t want,” Chairman Howell said. “It’s annoying, it’s deceptive and it ought to be illegal.” The federal Truth in Caller ID Act and Federal Communications Commission rules prohibit any person or entity from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information, but only if it’s done with “the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value.” However, spoofing is still legal under federal law if no harm is intended or caused.
Chairman Howell said he has asked legislative attorneys to begin drafting a bill that would make spoofing illegal in West Virginia under any circumstances. The bill would be introduced in next year’s legislative session.
“People have the right to be free from annoying, unwanted or harassing phone calls,” Chairman Howell said. “We need to send a message that this deceptive practice will not be tolerated in West Virginia.”