NEWBERRY — Governor Henry McMaster signed the Telephone Privacy Protection Act into law on Friday at The Newberry Opera House. This law, also known as the anti-call spoofing bill, makes it illegal for a call solicitor to use a South Carolina area code, unless they have a physical presence in the state.
Consumers are able to report spoofed calls to the Office of Consumer Affairs. This new law was spearheaded by Newberry County State House Representative Rick Martin.
“This is a culmination of months and months and months of hard work. To get a bill passed is not an easy thing, and it should not be an easy thing. Some bills you don’t want passed,” Martin said. “This is a culmination of months and months and months of work to try and stop the scammers, the cheats, the thieves, from scamming our people here in South Carolina. We work very hard on getting this done, we worked with Consumer Affairs who played a pinnacle part in this. Governor McMaster himself played a very pinnacle part in this.”
Martin said while they know this new law will not stop scamming and spoofing, it will help.
“I think it will have a dramatic impact. People are tired of telemarketers, so many times people get calls, they are unwanted calls to begin with. Telephone used to be a real connivance, but sometimes it becomes really inconvenient. These telemarketers of course, they are doing their job and their job is to call as many people as they can and try and get them to buy something, and sometimes of course it is a scam,” McMaster said. “This law was nicely crafted with great insight and skill to eliminate that aggravation and threat. Rep. Martin has done a great service for the people of this state, I believe this legislation will be a model for other states as well.”
Martin said he received calls for months asking him to do something about the spoofing phone calls. He added that one Newberry County resident lost her life savings after being scammed.
“These are our people, I’m sick to death of it, our people being scammed and hurt,” he said.
According to McMaster, this law is something that helps the people of South Carolina.
“When our people don’t have to worry about crime and unwanted aggravation, as well as theft of property and money, when our people are free from those kinds of worries, that is when our people become greater and greater,” McMaster said. “My compliments to Rep. Martin and others who worked so hard, Sheriff Foster, who is a magnificent sheriff, who worked to see that this has become law.”
Martin also thanked Sheriff Lee Foster for taking the time to testify before a subcommittee to discuss what was happening to the people of Newberry County, to help get the bill passed.
Carri Grube Lybarker, administrator at the Department of Consumer Affairs, praised the new law.
“Current telemarketing law on the books before this were watered down and very antiquated. This brings up that threshold, gives us the enforcement authority we need and gives consumers private cause of action as well,” she said. “One of the provisions I think is the best in the country, the spoofing provision. That prohibits someone from taking your telephone number and calling a thousand people and making it look like you are the one calling them. It’s one of the strongest, and so we are excited to get with federal and state counterparts who are already doing similar works. We will see how they are getting the job done, and get out there and protect our South Carolina consumers.”
This law may also mark the first time a bill has been singed into law in Newberry County.
“Well I don’t know, but it is high time. It’s a delight to be here, Newberry County is a great place, the city is great, the Opera House is great. I’ve been here so many times, it seems like Newberry and places all over the state are just getting better and better,” McMaster said. “I’m thrilled when I hear visitors from not only other states, but other countries say they’ve never seen anything like South Carolina.”
After the signing of the bill, McMaster gave Martin the pen used to sign the bill into law. Martin said he is going to take the pen, and the bill, frame them and hang it in his office.