KEYSER, W.Va. — The practice of spoofing will be the target of a bill expected to get some consideration in the upcoming 60-day regular legislative session.

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Delegate Gary Howell (R-Mineral, 56)

Del. Gary Howell (R-Mineral), chairman of the House of Delegates Committee on Government Organizations, said he regularly receives complaints from his constituents who receive phone calls from businesses offering a service that appear to be from the local area but are really from another part of the state. Howell said it’s deceptive.

“We can make that illegal in the state and go after the companies that contract with these less than reputable telemarketers,” Howell said.

His neighbors want to deal with locally-based businesses, Howell said.

“We want to pick that phone up and know that somebody is in our local area. So if we have an issue with it we don’t have to wait four hours for somebody from Charleston to fix it. So there’s the deception (with spoofing),” Howell said.

The bill is expected to target those businesses with a West Virginia presence. Howell said it’s more difficult to chase down phone scams or telemarketers from other states or countries.

The bill will propose spoofing be made a misdemeanor crime with fines, Howell said.

“Maybe start out low at $100 if they do it and escalate up along those lines,” Howell said. “Eventually make it to the point where the company says, ‘Look it’s not worth it for me to spoof these numbers to make people think that I’m local,” Howell said.

He’s received complaints of spoofing with numbers from the local landline prefix and from cell phone numbers.

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