Getting spoof-proof proving problematic

Anti-spoofing legislation is passing in other states. Would it help in Arkansas? (Photo courtesy: MGNOnline)

At the Arkansas State Capitol, nearly 500 pieces of legislation have been filed this session.

Abortion providers, sex offenders and anyone trying to take your guns are favorite targets of lawmakers in a red state. But if a legislator really wants to be popular, take on enemy No. 1 -- robocallers.

Last year, legislation was filed in Louisiana, Iowa, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts aimed at lowering the amount of unwanted calls we receive on our cellphones. Similar proposals are currently being considered in Virginia, Kentucky and Kansas.

But not Arkansas. At least not yet.

Forty attorneys general, including Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, are working to determine the best way to reduce unwanted robocalls and what the major telecom companies can do to help. Thirty-seven attorneys general, including Rutledge, are also calling on the Federal Communications Commission to give carriers more latitude in blocking robocallers.

They especially want the FCC to crack down on spoofing. That happens when you get a call that shows it originated in your area or area code but it really didn't.

This problem is more than just a nuisance. Americans receive over 20 billion robocalls a year and phone scams trick them out of an estimated $350 million a year. The National Do Not Call Registry and consumer protection acts have only stopped the calls made by legitimate, law-abiding companies.

Like federal laws, state laws feel good but will likely do little to curtail the growing problem. That's because the scammers operate overseas out of the jurisdiction of our laws. Technology is the answer but experts say victory over unwanted calls remains, sadly, years away.

On a more positive note, there are many apps that have proven effective in identifying scam or spoof calls.

Your phone will still ring. But you'll know not to answer.

Air date: Jan. 29, 2019

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