Florida to toughen penalties on cellphone scammers

Florida to toughen penalties on cellphone scammers
Florida to toughen penalties on cellphone scammers
Posted at 2:23 PM, Oct 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-04 14:23:00-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The News Service of Florida)The Florida Department of Financial Services says it will work to toughen penalties for crooks who trick people into answering their mobile phones. 

Cell phone scammers are now using fake phone numbers to make it look like you are answering a call from a number that you recognize. 

Known as “neighborhood spoofing,” the scammer makes the incoming call appear as a local number to the person answering the phone.  

The scam works because people are generally more likely to answer an unknown local number, since it may be a doctor’s office, the school nurse or your next-door neighbor.  

Department of Financial Services Spokesman, Devin Galetta, says beyond just being annoying, many unwanted cell phone calls end up costing Floridians money. 

“It is a nuisance. A lot of times, these scam artists are trying to prey on our most vulnerable populations, with seniors being one of those that may get confused at the number that’s calling them," said Galetta. 

Galetta says the department will dedicate additional fraud investigation resources toward catching cell phone scammers. The agency will also lobby for larger fines for those caught spoofing phone numbers.  

A new law that took effect in July authorizes phone companies to block robocalls, but has been of little help so far. According to a recent report, roughly half of all cell phone calls made in America next year will be scams, up from 29 percent this year and only 4 percent in 2017.