Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has signed a bill into law that criminalizes spoofing of phone numbers while also giving the state Attorney General the power to prosecute cases in state court as well as federal court, and requires entities that have Caller ID’s that identify them as “unknown” or “blocked” to leave voicemail messages identifying their true identity.
Entities deemed to be targeting vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly, disabled, or a veteran will face additional penalties under the law, will go into effect in March 2022.
Companies accused of breaking the law can be prosecuted for up to a first-degree felony, depending on the amount of money involved, according to a published report.
Under the law, entities are prohibited from knowingly transmitting Caller ID information that is either misleading or inaccurate through either a telecommunication service or voiceover Internet protocol service. The only exceptions are lawfully authorized law enforcement agencies and activities pursuant to a court order that specifically authorizes the use of manipulated Caller IDs. Companies mist used Caller IDs that have been assigned to them.
“This is a big step forward in our fight to better safeguard Ohioans from fraud and scams over the phone,” said Sen. Gavarone, in a statement. “Thank you to my colleagues for getting this important bill across the finish line and into law.”
The law also establishes safe harbors with major telecom providers to protect those complying with it while also encouraging best practices recommended by the Federal Communications Commission.