COLUMBIA — An anti-spoofing bill introduced by Rep. Rick Martin (R-Newberry) passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 99-1 on Thursday. H. 4628, the South Carolina Telephone Privacy Protection Act, targets out-of-state telemarketers and scammers who simulate in-state numbers on the recipient’s caller ID.
“Most people won’t answer a call from a number across the country, so scammers call you from a number you might recognize, sometimes even taking specific people’s numbers and pretending to be them,” Martin said. “These kinds of calls are things that countless people across our state deal with on a daily basis.”
The bill makes it illegal for a telephone solicitor to use a South Carolina area code without maintaining a physical presence in the state, allows for enforcement, and provides for a $5,000 fine for each offense. If this bill becomes law, a victimized consumer would be able to report the spoofed call to the Department of Consumer Affairs, and the Office of the Attorney General would then pursue legal action against the call solicitor. Under the measure, victims could also potentially sue the telemarketer or scammer for civil damages.
The Act, introduced in January, was amended in the House Labor, Commerce and Industry committee last week before advancing to the House floor. Those amendments, and amendments made just before passage Thursday, strengthened the bill’s penalties and enforcement mechanism, and defined necessary terms. With 22 co-sponsors and bi-partisan support, the bill easily passed the House before being sent to the Senate, where it will likely be referred to a committee next week for approval.
“Today’s vote is a victory for telephone users across South Carolina,” Martin added. “I encourage everyone to call their state senators to help push this bill through the Senate, to the Governor’s desk, and into law.”