Legislation against telephone scam signed into law

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NEW YORK – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) has announced that her legislation to combat a widespread telephone scam that has adversely affected the Indian American community has been signed into law.

The legislation would crack down on criminals who engage in spoofing, a scheme in which criminals disguise their caller ID to make it appear that they’re calling from a financial institution, police department or government agency, especially the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), falsely claiming to victims that they are from one of these official entities and end up stealing their money by convincing them to wire cash or provide bank account or personal information, according to a press release.

The legislation would make spoofing attempts from abroad a criminal act since currently it is not against the law to defraud Americans through calls from outside the U.S.

Her measure would also expand spoofing protections to cover text messaging and internet-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services that enable individuals to make calls from computers and tablets.

“Spoofing has been one of the fastest growing forms of fraud in America, but the enactment of my Anti-Spoofing Act will provide new and critical tools to stop those who perpetrate this deceitful and malicious crime. Finally, we can fight back against these unconscionable thieves who for too long have preyed on unwitting consumers including the most vulnerable in our society such as immigrants and the elderly,” said Meng, in a statement.

“Enactment of this legislation has been a long time coming. Spoofing is an issue that I began to tackle during my first term in Congress. My bill passed the House several times but the Senate refused to act. I kept up the fight though and continuously pushed for this legislation to become law. I thank Reps. Joe Barton (R-TX) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ) who, from the beginning, partnered with me on this measure, and I thank everybody who supported this bipartisan and common-sense effort. I am proud to have championed this legislation and I’m extremely pleased that it is now the law of the land,” she added.

In addition, the legislation would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to regularly update education materials that help consumers identify and protect themselves from caller ID scams.

Meng first sponsored anti-spoofing legislation after receiving spoofing complaints from local seniors and the “Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET),” a civic organization in her district in Queens, New York.

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