New Virginia laws crack down on robocalls

Politics

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Those pesky robocallers may think twice before dialing you up again. Starting Monday, scammers will get tougher penalties under two new Virginia laws.

We’ve all gotten them: You look at your phone and the number calling looks like it’s from your neighborhood or a co-worker. Instead, it’s a solicitor. 

“They’ll spoof you with a number, and that’s when robocallers are able to use local looking numbers,” Barry N. Moore, the President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Central Virginia, said. 

Moore says the BBB hears about millions of robocalls across the country each year. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Virginia was ranked 7th highest in the nation for “Do Not Call Registry” complaints in 2018.

“But most folks just slam the phone down, ignore the call. And then they keep calling again and again and again,” Moore said. “Most people never report that sort of thing.”

But starting July 1, if Virginians report these crimes, two new laws will make it easier for prosecutors, such as the Attorney General, to go after people and companies trying to scam you on the phone. 

Robocalls will now be added as a crime under the  Virginia Telephone Privacy Protection Act, under HB2600, sponsored by Del. John Bell (D-District 87). 

Solicitors ringing up someone with a fake or misleading number, also called “spoofing,” could be charged with a Class 3 Misdemeanor with a possible $500 fine. This is under

HB2170, sponsored by Del. Emily Brewer (R-District 64).

“Every tool that we get as prosecutors really helps us combat this but it’s really going to take everybody working together,” Attorney General Mark Herring said. 

If you do receive one of these calls, you can report it to the Attorney General’s Office as well as the Better Business Bureau.

This comes months after Attorney General Herring joined more than 30 other attorneys general to call on the Federal Communications Commission to give phone companies more power to block robocalls.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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