In a recent statement from the Federal Communications Commission, Chairman Ajit Pai proposed the adoption of new rules aimed at extending the anti-spoofing prohibitions in last year’s Ray Baum’s Act to international callers and texters. The provisions in last year’s Ray Baum’s Act extended the scope of the Truth in Caller ID Act, which the FCC now seeks to further extend in the new proposed rule to apply these prohibitions to international callers and texters. The move is the latest in Pai’s initiatives to curb spoofing and robocalls, including the SHAKEN/STIR summit, as well as authorization for the creation of a reassigned number database.
Previously, the Truth in Caller ID Act prohibited anyone from using misleading or inaccurate caller ID information, or “spoofing,” with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value. However, these prohibitions did not extend to text messages or international calls. With the passage of Ray Baum’s Act last year, the spoofing prohibitions were extended to calls made from persons outside the United States if the recipient is within the United States, and to text messages. The new proposed rule now seeks to implement this legislation and extend the prohibitions to text messages, calls originating from abroad to recipients within the United States, and other additional types of transmissions, such as VoIP calls.
“Scammers often robocall us from overseas, and when they do, they typically spoof their numbers to try and trick consumers,” Pai said in a statement. “Call center fraudsters often pretend to be calling from trusted organizations and use pressure tactics to steal from Americans. We must attack this problem with every tool we have.”
It remains to be seen how, exactly, the FCC plans on enforcing these requirements on foreign actors. The FCC’s statement does not include any specific plans to enforce any prohibitions other than a vague statement about closing loopholes that hamstring law enforcement from pursuing overseas scammers, though we will hopefully have some update as to the actual proposed rules prior to the August 1 meeting and vote, when the FCC releases its agenda.
The ultimate catch for our industry is whether the proposed rule would differentiate between the types of scam calls the FCC seems to want to stop, and other legitimate automated calls, such as debt collectors who use off-shore call centers to call individuals located within the United States. We will have to wait another month for the answer, but hopefully the FCC has both a mechanism in place to enforce the proposed rule as well as a system to differentiate between scam calls and legitimate calls.