Telemarketers know that almost nobody picks up their phone without first checking the caller ID and that's why many are now engaging in caller ID spoofing where they alter the name or number that shows up on your caller ID display.

Flickr User Jon Phillips

But a new bill approved by the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities committee would make the practice illegal.

"Spoofing infringes on a resident's right to privacy," said bill co-sponsor Assemblyman Ruben Ramos (D-Hoboken). "Caller ID gives residents a choice whether to take a call or not, to assess its importance by recognizing the name. ID spoofing takes away that right from residents."

ID-spoofing can make a call appear to come from any phone number the caller wants. A recent report to the United States Senate on ID spoofing stated that the practice has been used to access personal information of those receiving telephone calls and to deceive law enforcement into responding to what they believed was a legitimate distress call.

"Those who use ID spoofing services know exactly what they are doing and why," said bill co-sponsor Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Belleville). "This is an unacceptable practice or prank, whichever way it is used. For any resident on the other end of the line, it is not entertaining to be deceived into answering a call."

The measure is called the "Truth in Caller Identification Act." It would make it illegal for any person, in connection with any telecommunications service used within New Jersey, to knowingly cause any telephone caller identification service to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.

The bill allows for two exemptions; any authorized activity of a law enforcement agency; or a court order that specifically authorizes the use of caller ID manipulation.The legislation doesn't prevent or restrict any person from blocking the capability of any caller ID service to transmit caller ID information.

Violators would face a fine of up to $10,000 for a first offense.