Proposed Bill Would Greatly Enhance Robocall Penalties in WA
If legislators approve this proposed bill, it will get a lot harder to utilize robocalls and spoofing of phone numbers in WA state.
WA seeks to pass legislation already done in Florida and Oklahoma
House bill 1051, the Robocall Scam Protection Act, is being proposed by WA State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and will be introduced by House Rep Mari Leavitt (D-University Place) in January.
According to Ferguson, WA state laws are out-of-date in dealing with robocalls and spoofing, which is the practice of copying a legitimate established phone number that shows up on your caller ID. For example, fraudsters call people spoofing police or sheriff's department numbers, and try to extort money from them with fake bogus citations or charges.
According to Ferguson this new bill make it illegal to:
- "Robocall someone on the Do Not Call Registry;
- Deliberately falsify the caller ID display to disguise the caller’s identity; and
- Knowingly facilitate illegal robocalls if you are a voice service provider."
To do so would be a violation of the Consumer Protection Act, and subject to criminal charges. The bill will also allow individual consumers a path to pursue their own litigation for damages.
According to the AG's office:
"Currently, no Washington state law explicitly prohibits a company from contacting individuals on the federal Do-Not-Call registry against their will. The Robocall Scam Protection Act will make these calls a violation of the Consumer Protection Act."
There will be some allowances for certain businesses to continue to use automated calling systems. These were laid out by the AG's office:
"The Act preserves businesses’ ability to use automatic dialers to contact their existing customers and customers who consented to receive the messages.
Further, businesses can also still use automatic dialers to contact customers if they have an established business relationship, as long as the sales message itself is delivered by a live person."
The bill is expected to receive widespread bi-partisan support.
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