Bill to end 'spoof telemarketing' continues to gain momentum in House

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — A group of Lowcountry lawmakers along with several other representatives from across the state continue their effort to end telemarketing with calls from numbers that spoof a South Carolina area code.

Rep. Katherine Arrington, who represents parts of Charleston and Dorchester counties, has signed onto House Bill 4286 that would prohibit telemarketers from calling consumers with a spoofed South Carolina area code unless the telemarketer maintains a physical presence in the state. She believes the anti-spoof law is necessary to end a disruptive practice.

“This is a different way for telemarketers to find a new way in,” she said. “At least for companies not based in South Carolina, we wanted to take that ability away from them.”

Spoofing is the practice of telemarketers mimicking your area code or the prefix of your cell phone number in an effort to get you to pick based on the familiarity of the number.

It happens all day, every day, to a growing number of people.

“Oh goodness, I have it all the time,” said resident Carol Creach. "I’ve already had about five calls today. I think a person from my hometown is calling and it ends up being one of these calls. It's been going on a pretty good while.”

“I would say probably every three weeks probably I get at least one,” said resident Christy Wurst. “I try to be kind, but it’s kind of like, 'Why are you calling, how did you get my number?'”

While several people we spoke with agree the proposed law is necessary, they said they wish telemarketers were not able to reach their cell phones in the first place.

Arrington believes spoofing is how telemarketers have adapted in the past 15 years since congress passed the national Do Not Call Registry.

226 million people have signed up, and more than a million live right here in the Lowcountry.

Even so, many admit it doesn’t work. The Federal Trade Commission reports that in 2016, 22,000 people from the greater Charleston area complained that the calls had not stopped.

“When we see an 843 number pop up on our phone, we think it's a constituent, and I'll drop everything for a constituent," said Arrington. "When you have a telemarketer sell you insurance from Arizona, that's not something I need or anyone needs to be distracted with during the day.”

South Carolina representatives Joseph Daning (R) District 92, Linda Bennett (R) District 114, and Sylleste Davis (R) District 100 have signed onto the bill as well.

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