AARP, the nation’s strongest voice for people age 50 and older, has announced support for a Nebraska bill to curb scam phone calls originating from fake caller ID numbers.
LB693, the Neighbor Spoofing Protection Act, introduced by Sen. Steve Halloran, would ban callers from sending deceptive caller ID information to phones “with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value.” The Nebraska Public Service Commission could fine violators as much as $2,000 for each offense.
Danny DeLong, an AARP Nebraska volunteer spokesperson, told the Legislature’s Transportation and Telecommunications Committee on Feb. 19 that scam calls often targeting older, vulnerable adults are escalating at an alarming rate. He cited a report from telecommunications firm First Orion, which estimates that 9 in 10 scam calls will come from a familiar area code in 2019.
“This is an issue that resonates loudly with our 200,000 AARP members in Nebraska and the age 50 plus population,” DeLong said. “We hear about this problem constantly from our membership and see media reports on a daily basis about people who have been victims of financial exploitation and robbed blind by phone scammers.”
The financial consequences can indeed be serious for consumers who get caught up in a scam. The Federal Trade Commission reports that the median loss from a phone-based scam in 2017 was $720.
As an example of the scam call epidemic, DeLong shared his personal experiences with phony caller ID numbers using Norton’s Mobile Protection call-blocker feature. He noted that as of today, most of the blocked numbers appear to be spoofed calls:
- 146 of the 418 numbers blocked by his phone are 402.239 numbers, the same as his own mobile exchange.
- 35 percent of his blocked numbers use the same first six digits as his number.
- 328 of the 418 blocked numbers are 402 numbers.
- 78 percent of his blocked numbers appear to have originated from the 402 area code.
DeLong urged the committee to attack the rising flood of spoofed calls by supporting and advancing LB693 to the full Legislature for consideration.
“Older adults are increasingly the targets of phone scam artists who use deception, fear tactics and lies to convince the elderly to send money or provide personal account information. They are harassed into buying worthless products and services they do not want or need,” he said.