Proposed bill would make phone ‘spoofing’ a felony in Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - If you’ve ever gotten a familiar name or number on your caller ID, only for the caller to be a totally different person trying to sell you a car warranty, a bill in the Alabama legislature would make that a felony.

State Representative Craig Lipscomb, a newly elected Republican from Etowah County, says he’s heard from a number of his constituents about people whose caller IDs show actual phone numbers, but the person calling is a telemarketer.

He says he’s gotten a number of those calls himself.

Lipscomb says his bill would make that a felony, and would put the attorney general in charge of prosecuting people who do that.

“The intent of the bill, is to notify the individual who has been spoofing these caller IDs and simply stating to them, ‘You need to be honest and forward to the people you are calling,’” Lipscomb said. "Let them know who you are and where you’re from. That is to say, we don’t want you to purport to be our neighbor down the street, when in fact, you’re trying to sell me an extended warranty on a dishwasher.”

Lipscomb says most of Alabama’s households have at least one cell phone they use for personal business, and often work, and depend on them.

“You need to anticipate that you need to be answering this phone call, but it’s like the boy who cried wolf. You’ve been getting phone calls all day long from people you don’t know and you’re pushing them to voice mail because you don’t want to talk to any telemarketers anymore,” says Lipscomb.

There have been reports of people getting calls from hackers or telemarketers, showing the caller ID of local law enforcement officials, including one from the Gadsden Police Department showing an actual number. The person using that number claimed to be sending officers to arrest that person for not paying some unknown taxes. No one from that real number actually made that call.

In one case, a person says their caller ID showed the actual customer service number of their bank, but the call was from a hacker, demanding login information the actual bank would never request over the phone.

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