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Bill banning phone spoofing in Nebraska introduced in legislature

Posted at 8:15 PM, Jan 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-31 21:15:36-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Crystal Rhoades is on her fourth year on the Nebraska Public Service Commission and she's heard complaints about phone spoofing throughout her time on the regulatory board.

"It's a huge problem,” says Rhoades.

Spoofing occurs when a caller disguises their phone number on your caller ID. When you pick up they'll often try to trick you into giving you personal information.

"These phone numbers become pirated by people who don't always have the best intentions," says Senator Steve Halloran.

Halloran who introduced the bill, which would fine any caller that illegally spoofs calls.

"They won't be able to use 402 or 308 numbers as their lead-ins which is often times why people pick up the call,” says Rhoades.

Rhoades says this bill would give the commission a tool and is a good start, but if the bill is passed, it wouldn't stop the problem. To do that, Congress would need to take the legislature's lead.

"It wouldn't stop them from placing a call from an Iowa number or a Kansas number or a number anywhere else in the country they would still be able to make these spoofing calls, they just wouldn't show up as local Nebraska calls," says Rhoades.

Opponents like the Nebraska Telecommunications Association disagree, saying the bill would have no effect, because the callers are often not even in Nebraska.

"The goal of legislating is noble but isn't practical, the reason is because the spoofers and the bad actors that are perpetuating the scam aren't from Nebraska and very likely they're not even from the United States,” says Eric Carstenson, president of Nebraska Telecommunications Association.

The FCC is pushing to end the practice on the federal level. Carstenson told me over the phone that the telecommunications industry would likely welcome that.