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Legislators consider tougher 'spoofing' laws

(KVLY)
Published: Feb. 18, 2019 at 6:33 PM CST
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Are you tired of telemarketers calling and tricking you into thinking it's a local number? Spoofing is a growing problem across the country.

"I get about five phone calls a day. I've blocked, I know, 50 numbers within the last four months," said Monique Davis, who says she's tired of all the calls. "They're really annoying."

A pair of bills in the Mississippi Senate and House address the latest headache, spoofing.

Even if you don't know the term, you likely know the drill. A call comes to your phone from a familiar area code. But when you pick up, it's a telemarketer or even a scammer.

"It's aggravating the most because you think it's an important call and you stop what you're doing to answer the call and it's somebody trying to sell you something or somebody saying you owe them some money," said Mozell Fleming, who is annoyed by the calls.

State Sen. Sally Doty sponsored the Senate bill to up the penalties for the issue.

"It's a real problem that's real aggravating. It makes you not want to answer your phone," said Doty. "It's an infringement on our rights, I believe."

Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley says the law is needed because their hands are tied.

"Right now, if we get a call or complaint from someone and the number has been spoofed, there's nothing we can do about that but just forward it to the federal government," Presley said.

Mississippi passed an anti-spoofing law almost a decade ago but it was challenged and struck down in court. The newly proposed law would mirror the federal legislation. So, the callers would get slapped with double the penalties.

"These folks are not Sunday School teachers. They're criminals. They're scam artists," said Presley. "They're people who are evading the law and so it is tough because many times they'll set up one number and the next day they'll sell that number and change. So, it's tough for our investigators sometimes to track those down."

But the new law would give them more tools to go after those callers.