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Enables New Tech To Help Stop Con Artists

A bill to strengthen anti-spoofing laws that Rep. Grace Meng sponsored passed the House of Representatives last week and now awaits a Senate vote, it was announced last Wednesday, Sept. 10.

Building on a 2009 law–the Truth in Caller ID Act–(H.R. 3670) attempts to quash the telemarketing scheme by including foreign callers, new Internet-based voice-over services and text messaging.

Meng introduced the bill after she received complaints from seniors and members of the Communities Of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) civic association, she said. Spoofing of various types is a widespread telephone scheme that has defrauded millions of Americans, Meng said.

There are several different types of the scam widely used by con artists, but it is essentially a practice where unscrupulous telemarketers use technology to disguise a phone number and identity to make phone calls from purportedly official agencies or companies seem legitimate.

Police have warned residents of these scams at civic associations, community boards and precinct council meetings throughout Queens. Crooks have used the cover of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and numbers of other government agencies to cover their true identities and intentions.

Scammers have used police and law enforcement covers, including the 109th Precinct in Flushing, to conceal their identity as well.

The scheme forced the IRS this past tax season to warn the public about the scam, Meng noted. It has become a national problem, not solely affecting any state or region, she stated.

Posing as IRS officials, crooks have called demanding immediate payment of taxes and threatened arrest if none was received, Meng noted. Scam alerts have also been issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“Attention scammers and deceitful telemarketers: We are one step closer to stopping you from using caller ID spoofing to rip-off unwitting, vulnerable consumers such as the elderly, immigrants and veterans,” Meng said.

“Spoofing is a huge problem that affects millions of people throughout the country,” COMET President Rosemarie Daraio said. “I am pleased to hear that Congresswoman Meng’s bill, to help combat this practice, has passed the House. Hopefully, this bill will pass the Senate, be enacted into law and ultimately help curtail this practice.”

Congress passed the earlier bill in 2009 and it was later signed by President Obama. Spoofing technology has evolved since, necessitating the new measure, Meng said.

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