House Approves Bill to Crack Down on Call Spoofers
Dear Citizens: Members of the Missouri House took action this week to protect vulnerable Missourians from predatory callers who hid their identities. The bill passed by the House would establish the “Caller ID Anti-Spoofing Act.” (HB 242)
Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to caller ID display to disguise their identity. Scammers often use neighbor spoofing so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a local number, or spoof a number from a company or a government agency the individual they are calling may already know and trust. Spoofers use scam scripts to try to steal money or valuable personal information, which can be used in fraudulent activity.
“It’s the vulnerable adults who I am worried about more than anything else. They think they get a phone call from maybe their son, and it’s not, and they pick up and they go down some kind of tale of misfortune and then try to get some personal information from them and all of a sudden it leads into some financial information, or dollars being sent to these people,” said the bill’s sponsor.
The bill would create the offense of caller identification spoofing. An individual commits the offense of caller identification spoofing if he or she enters or causes to be entered false information into a caller ID service with the intent to deceive, defraud, or mislead the recipient of the call to obtain anything of value. It would also be a crime if the person places a call knowing that false information was entered into a caller ID service with the intent to deceive, defraud, or mislead the recipient of the call. The offense is a class E felony.
Any victim of call spoofing would have standing to recover punitive damages against the caller in an amount up to $5,000 per call. Additionally, the Attorney General would be empowered to initiate legal proceedings or intervene in legal proceedings on behalf of victims. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
REAL ID Deadline Extended – Missourians with plans to fly later this year received good news this week as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extended the deadline for obtaining a REAL ID-compliant identification card. Missourians were facing a deadline of October 1 of this year, but the department announced this week the deadline has been pushed to May 3, 2023.
Beginning May 3, 2023, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another TSA-acceptable form of identification at airport security checkpoints for domestic air travel.
The department will hold webinars on Thursday, April 29; Tuesday, May 4; and Wednesday, May 5. For more information and to register for the webinars, anyone interested can visit dor.mo.gov/drivers/real-id-information/.
Utility Assistance Program Expanded to Help Missourians Pay Energy Bills – Missourians in need of financial assistance to pay their heating bills received good news recently. Gov. Mike Parson announced the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Energy Assistance (EA) Program is extending one-time primary heating bill payments through May 31, 2021.
Eligibility for the program is also expanding. The program has been available to Missouri families with incomes up to 135 percent of the federal poverty level. It will now include Missouri households with an income of up to 60 percent of the State Median Income. The change will allow a family of four with an income of up to $51,021 to receive benefits. Previously, the income limit for a family of four was $35,364.
In addition to meeting the income criteria, households must also meet the following criteria to qualify for LIHEAP:
- Be responsible for paying home heating costs
- Have $3,000 or less in bank accounts, retirement accounts, or investments
- All household members must be a U.S. citizen or legally admitted for permanent residence
In Federal Fiscal Year 2020, Missouri provided $78.6 million in LIHEAP assistance to over 108,000 households. Missourians interested in learning more about the program can visit https://mydss.mo.gov/energy-assistance or call 1-855-373-4636.
For more information, contact Representative Patricia Pike at [email protected] or call 573-751-5388.