With the deceptive use of caller identification information on the rise, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued new rules to protect consumers from the practice of “spoofing,” which involves masking the identification of a caller for malicious purposes.
In a Report and Order issued in June 2011, the FCC now prohibits caller ID spoofing with fraudulent or harmful intent. Under the new rules, violators are subject to up to a $10,000 fine for each violation, or three times that amount for each day of continuing violations, with a maximum fine of $1 million for any continuing violation. In addition, the FCC may assess fines against entities it does not traditionally regulate without first issuing a citation, and can impose penalties more readily than it can under other provisions of the Communications Act.
According to the FCC, callers are still permitted to alter caller ID information as long as their purposes are not harmful or fraudulent. An example might be a domestic violence shelter that may have personal safety reasons for not revealing the actual phone number of the shelter.
The new rules implement the provisions of the Truth in Caller ID Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2010.