Today Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) joined Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Martha McSally (R-Arz.) in introducing the Anti-Spoofing Penalties Modernization Act of 2019 to aid Americans who are being inundated with robocalls. This bipartisan legislation doubles the penalties for illegal caller-ID “spoofing,” a tactic scammers often use to trick victims into answering their phone calls.

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.”

Senator Hawley also discussed his efforts as Missouri Attorney General to crack down on robocalls during a Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing earlier today.

Background

“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 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 also extends the statute of limitations for these violations from two years to three years.

Issues