Arkansas legislature advances bill to charge robocallers with a felony

Arkansas's state Senate on Monday advanced a bill that would charge robocallers who display familiar-looking numbers to trick people into answering with a felony, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

State Attorney General Leslie Rutledge initiated the bill that was unanimously advanced to the House.

"I am thrilled that the Senate passed the bill unanimously and look forward to a similar vote in the House," Rutledge said in a statement to the Democrat-Gazette. "We must work together regardless of political party to solve problems affecting all Arkansans."

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Falsifying a number to trick phone owners, a practice called spoofing, would be punishable by six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if the bill is approved.

As part of the bill, telecommunication companies would have to implement preventative measures and detail their steps taken in an annual report to the Arkansas Public Service Commission, according to the Democrat-Gazette.

Federal Communications Chair Ajit Pai has called on providers to crack down on fraudulent caller IDs from robocallers, saying his agency would have to step in if the problem isn't dealt with.

Robocalls spiked 46 percent in 2018, up to a reported 26.3 billion, according to The Washington Post.