Courts have addressed the issue of whether misrepresentation or ‘spoofing’ of Caller IDs in collection calls can violate the FDCPA, and we have reported on such cases previously.

Yesterday, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, with a comment deadline of April 18, 2011, regarding its implementation of regulatory and enforcement rules for the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009.  It can be found hereThe FCC summarized its proposed Rule as follows:  


In this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), we seek comment on proposed rules to implement the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 (Truth in Caller ID Act, or Act), signed into law on  December 22, 2010.1 Caller ID services identify the telephone numbers and sometimes the names associated with incoming calls. Many telephone users—including subscribers to traditional wireline, interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and mobile wireless services—routinely rely on Caller ID to determine who is calling and whether to answer the call. Increasingly, bad actors are manipulating or “spoofing” caller ID information to facilitate schemes that harm consumers or threaten public safety. Some caller ID spoofers, for example, transmit caller ID information that makes it appear that they are calling from consumers’ banks or credit card companies in an attempt to trick call recipients into providing their account numbers or other sensitive information. In other instances, caller ID spoofers have engaged in a practice referred to as “swatting,” which involves placing false emergency calls to law enforcement agencies to elicit a response from Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams. The Truth in Caller ID Act is aimed at preventing these harmful and dangerous practices. The Act prohibits intentionally harmful or fraudulent spoofing of caller ID information and gives the  Federal Communications Commission (Commission) the authority to seek substantial penalties from those who violate the Act.    The Truth in Caller ID Act prohibits anyone in the United States from causing any caller identification service2 to knowingly transmit misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the  intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.  The Truth in Caller ID Act requires the Commission to issue implementing regulations within six months of the law’s enactment. It also requires the Commission, by the same date, to submit a report to Congress on “whether additional legislation is necessary to prohibit the provision of inaccurate caller identification information in technologies that are successor or replacement technologies to telecommunications services or IP-enabled voice services.”


The Proposed Rule is designed to prevent Caller ID ‘spoofing’, but does not prevent Caller ID Blocking altogether (except for telemarketers).  The FCC explained:


The Truth in Caller ID Act specifies that it is not intended to be construed to prevent or restrict any person from blocking the transmission of caller identification information. The legislative history shows that Congress intended to protect subscribers’ ability to block the transmission of their own caller identification information to called parties.45 Therefore, the proposed rules provide that a person or entity that blocks or seeks to block a caller identification service from transmitting or displaying that person or entity’s own caller identification information shall not be liable for violating the Commission’s Truth in Caller ID Act implementing rules. We seek comment on whether the proposed rules appropriately implement this provision of the Act.