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Public Asked To Comment On Efforts to Block Unwanted Calls, Scams
Updated December 11, 2014 3:50 PM
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(UNDATED) - New action at the federal level could mean fewer unwanted telemarketing calls to Hoosiers, according to Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

The Federal Communications Commission is now seeking public comment on potential rule changes in this area, which Zoeller said would be a key step forward in the battle to protect telephone privacy rights and reduce unwanted calls.

The FCC recently announced it would consider recommendations from the attorneys general to allow phone companies to implement call-blocking technologies, which could filter robocalls and other unwanted sales calls.

In September, Zoeller and Attorney General Chris Koster of Missouri led 38 attorneys general in urging the FCC to clarify rules that some say prohibit phone companies from taking advantage of existing technologies like NoMoRobo and Call Control that can identify and block unwelcome sales calls at a customer's request.

The FCC is now seeking public comment on potential rule changes in this area, which Zoeller said would be a key step forward in the battle to protect telephone privacy rights and reduce unwanted calls. He encourages Indiana residents to give their opinion on blocking unwanted calls by visiting apps.fcc.gov and entering the proceeding number, 02-278.

"People all across the country, and in Indiana, have made it clear that stopping incessant telemarketing calls and scam pitches is a priority," Zoeller said. "Fighting illegal telemarketers and scammers is extremely difficult because most of these bad actors are national if not global. We need to use every tool in the toolbox, at the state and federal levels, to address this frustrating problem."

To view the public notice, visit fcc.gov/document. Public comments should be filed by Dec. 24, 2014.

Also to strengthen telephone privacy laws, Zoeller recently joined a group of 38 attorneys general calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to update its Telemarketing Sales Rule to specifically address the continued prevalence of telemarketing fraud and abuse.

The attorneys general suggested improvements to the available tools to prevent telemarketers and scammers from taking advantage of consumers, such as:

Stopping telemarketers from using a consumer's account information prior to the consumer agreeing to a transaction.

Prohibiting telemarketers from treating a consumer's inaction as consent.

Requiring sellers and telemarketers to create and maintain call records; doing so would help attorneys general with enforcement actions.

Banning or restricting certain novel payment methods, including fraud-induced money transfers.

For a copy of the attorneys general FTC letter, visit naag.org/assets.

Zoeller said state attorneys general are in the best position to innovate in the area of telephone privacy law because they are on the forefront in fielding consumer complaints, investigating and taking legal actions against bad actors.

In 2014, the Indiana Attorney General's Office received more than 12,000 complaints from consumers who received an unwanted telemarketing call, scam call or robocall. Additionally this year, the Office took legal action against 11 Do Not Call or robocall violators, and obtained judgments and settlements totaling more than $6 million.

Zoeller reminded Hoosiers to sign up for Indiana's Do Not Call list, which helps to deter unwanted and sales calls and text messages, by visiting IndianaConsumer.com or calling 1.888.834.9969.

Consumers who are registered on the Do Not Call list and receive an unwanted call can file a complaint by visiting IndianaConsumer.com.



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