Consumer Call Protection Act Passes California State Senate

Senator Hueso’s consumer protection bill aims to prevent robocall scams
May 13, 2019

Sacramento, CA – May 13, 2019 – California is one step closer to ending robocall scams after the State Senate today voted to advance SB 208, the Consumer Call Protection Act of 2019. The bill, authored by Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), aims to stop illegal robocall scams known as “neighbor spoofing” whereby scammers attempt to trick consumers into answering calls from imposters posing as local callers.

SB 208 sets a deadline of July 1, 2020 for telecommunications providers to implement Caller ID authentication measures, which can help identify illegal robocalls and prevent consumers from being scammed. The bill also ensures that the CPUC can collaborate with the California Attorney General’s Office to support action against illegal robocallers.

“When I learned that, by 2020, 40 percent of all calls received in the US will be fraudulent calls, I couldn’t believe it,” said Sen. Hueso, Chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee. “This bill will help restore consumers’ confidence in using their phones without being scammed.”

Robocall scams are the top consumer complaint to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In 2018, the FCC received 232,000 complaints from consumers regarding robocalls. Spoofing, especially neighbor spoofing, is key to making these scams work, and the volume of spoofed calls is increasing.

Neighbor spoofing occurs when a caller fakes a local phone number, tricking consumers into answering a call they believe is local. Consumers answer these calls expecting to speak with a local business, government office, family member, or friend. Instead, they usually receive a pre-recorded message attempting to scam the consumer.

A 2016 task force convened by the FCC suggested implementing a system that would ensure that callers are not spoofing numbers to circumvent caller identification systems. This system is known as the Secure Telephony Identity Revisited and Secure Handling of Asserted information using toKENs (STIR/SHAKEN) protocols.

While the FCC has called on telecommunications providers to implement STIR/SHAKEN by January 1, 2020, it has not passed any order or regulation to ensure that telecommunications providers actually implement these protections in a timely manner. A deadline for implementation is necessary to ensure that these protections are enacted for all California consumers as soon as possible. SB 208 requires telecommunications providers to implement STIR/SHAKEN by July 1, 2020 to help limit illegal robocalls and ensure that California can effectively enforce consumer protection laws.