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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is looking to tackle robocalls and spoofed texts that originate outside of the U.S.
“These updates would allow the FCC to bring enforcement actions against spoofers who try to scam consumers—regardless of where the calls originate,” Pai writes. “They would also allow us to go after those who spoof text messages and voice calls to the extent that conduct isn’t already covered by our current rules.”
The FCC stated that in 2018 alone, it received more than 52,000 complaints from consumers about caller ID spoofing. YouMail, a private company that tracks robocalls, said last year saw a total of more than 1,500 calls being made to Americans every second.
The FCC specifically cites one spoofing incident in which Chinese-Americans were targeted by scammers who “manipulated caller ID information” to make it appear as if they were calling from a Chinese consulate office in the U.S. The victims were told that they were being investigated by the Chinese government and would need to transfer funds to a Hong Kong bank account in order to resolve the issue. In total, “dozens of residents were defrauded out of an estimated $3 million.”
“Today’s efforts are the latest step in our ongoing fight against the persistent problem of malicious caller ID spoofing,” Pai added.
According to the Washington Post, the growing urgency at the FCC is not only related to the increase in robocalls to consumers but robocalls to the FCC itself.
“We are bombarded by them ourselves, and that’s why they’re a top priority,” Pai said.
If approved, the new rules would allow the agency to work with international law enforcement agencies to issue fines or other penalties to overseas spoofers.
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Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.