Iowans Are Getting ‘Spoofed,’ Legislator Introduces Bill Outlawing Sneaky Cell Phone Tactic


DES MOINES, Iowa  —  By now, almost everyone has been spoofed. We’re not talking about seeing yourself on Saturday Night Live, but rather the latest tactic being used by scammers and telemarketers alike.

Spoofers have developed technology to take an existing or unused telephone number from your area and use it to mask the number from which they’re actually calling.

“If the number seems a little bit familiar, you’re more likely to answer it if it’s in your own community, or certainly in your own area code, or maybe your prefix. Then you feel a little more comfortable and then they’ve got you on the phone,” said Attorney General Tom Miller.

The people doing this seemingly got the wrong person on the phone one too many times. State Senator Ken Rozenboom (R) introduced legislation that would make it illegal for telemarketers to use the tactic.

“This started with a constituent who called me last summer asking me to see if I could do something about this, so we worked on this,” said Senator Rozenboom.

Senator Rozenboom was set to file the completed bill on Monday, when as luck would have it…

“I was driving to the Capitol, I received call with the area code and prefix which is the same as mine, and I answered the call and it was a telemarketer for credit cards!” he said.

Under his law, that telemarketing company would face a stiff fine.

“In the bill it calls for a civil penalty of up to $40,000 per violation, which is significant of course, it certainly would be a deterrent, I would think,” said Senator Rozenboom.

The catch is that these people are tough to find.

“The technology is there for them to be able to do this. The whole challenge is now for the technology of the telecommunications companies and the FCC to fight back and to deal with this. This is truly outrageous,” said Attorney General Miller.

Miller supports the legislation and says it can be a tool to fight spoofing. Currently, federal law makes spoofing illegal only if the person is trying to commit fraud or steal information; it does not outlaw the use of spoofing for legitimate telemarketers.

Unfortunately for Iowans, there isn’t a good way to stop these calls from coming in. If you block the number, the telemarketers or scammers will just use a different one. Attorney General Miller advises caution when answering a call from a number you don’t recognize and says it’s best to hang up if you suspect it’s a scam.