The State Senate approved Bill 355 in August, and moved it to the governor's desk in September. The bill now makes it illegal for anyone to solicit, request or induce a consumer to provide personal information by using email, Web sites or the Internet to fraudulently impersonate a legitimate business.
The bill, pushed through the state Legislature by Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Los Angeles), is the first of its kind in the United States, making the scam a civil violation. Victims in California can now seek to recoup up to $500,000 for each violation, according to the bill.
''The FBI says this is a growing concern nationwide, costing consumers in the past two years alone more than $190 million,'' Murray said in a statement. ''Authorities say California experiences more than 15 percent of all phishing scams -- the most in the nation, and we need to stop it with strong penalties.''