Washington, DC – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley today sent a letter to Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski concerning recent reports of fraudulent use of caller ID technology. Press reports have indicated a dramatic increase of caller ID “spoofing”, or callers that misrepresent themselves on caller IDs.  In many cases, these fraudulent calls are a gateway to identity theft and harassment.

“While the laws have been made to put an end to this egregious practice, these spoofing calls continue to be received by Oregonians in an attempt to deceive,” Merkley said. “This cannot be tolerated.  I urge the FCC to make enforcing current law on this issue a priority.” 

Under the Truth in Caller ID Act passed last year, it is illegal to engage in caller ID spoofing. However, reports from the New York Times and other publications say the use of the tactic has recently risen.  In the letter, Merkley asks the FCC to aggressively enforce current law and put an end to this deceptive practice.

Senator Al Franken (D-MN) joined Senator Merkley in sending the letter. The text of the letter is below.

Julius Genachowski
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554

Dear Chairman Genachowski,

I am deeply concerned about recent reports concerning fraudulent use of caller ID technology and I urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to investigate abuses of caller ID.  Caller ID is a useful service that consumers pay for and those abusing it should be prosecuted under current law.

The New York Times recently reported on the dramatic increase of caller ID “spoofing,” or callers that misrepresent themselves on caller ID.  As reported in the article, states and the Federal Trade commission receive thousands of complaints each year about spoofing, and the number of complaints is growing dramatically each year.  This practice is illegal under current law – callers must accurately identify themselves or the company they are calling on behalf of.  However, technology exists which allows these laws to be circumvented.  These false caller ID claims are not only irritating to consumers, but they undermine the purpose of caller ID, a service the customer has paid for in order to accurately identify the caller. 

Caller ID spoofing is an invasion of personal privacy for commercial reasons and should not be tolerated.  Moreover, these misleading tactics can potentially lure consumers into giving away personal and financial information and can even enable abusive partners to stalk and harass their victims. I ask that you enforce the Truth in Caller ID Act and the FCC caller ID rules for telemarketers to the fullest extent of the law, so that citizens’ privacy can be respected.