INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster today launched the first-ever national “No-Call Law Enforcement Summit.”
Last year, the Indiana attorney general’s office received more than 14,000 Do Not Call complaints with more than 50 percent involving automated calls known as robocalls. The summit is being held today in Indianapolis to help state and federal agencies identify best practices on how to stop unwanted calls and prosecute violators.
“Consumers nationwide are fed up with receiving unwanted calls, and that’s why we have gathered our state and federal partners to identify solutions,” Zoeller said. “It’s important to recognize that many of these annoying calls stem from sources outside the U.S, which falls outside the states’ jurisdictions. States need assistance from the federal government, specifically the Federal Communications Commission, to do more in terms of regulating these types of calls.”
“Consumers place their phone numbers on their state’s No Call list because they do not want to receive annoying, unwanted calls," said Koster. "As is true in many states, the largest category of consumer complaints filed in Missouri each year involves violations of state No Call and telemarketing laws. I look forward to working with Attorney General Zoeller and other states to develop the ideas generated at this summit and better protect consumers from unlawful telephone harassment and fraud."
Participants include representatives from more than 20 attorneys general offices, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Canadian Radio-Television Commission and others. The summit’s theme is, “Building a No-Call Case from the Ground Up,” and presenters will focus on new technologies, investigation and prosecution techniques, and interstate and federal cooperation.
Zoeller is a strong proponent of a resolution passed by Indiana state legislators this year which called on the FCC to more aggressively regulate telemarketing calls and robocalls that violate Hoosiers’ telephone privacy.
Businesses often generate sales leads by using third-party telephone solicitors to call consumers, but many times those consumers’ numbers are registered on the state’s Do Not Call list. This year, the Indiana General Assembly passed a new law allowing the attorney general to hold accountable, through legal action, both the solicitors and the companies benefitting from these illegal calls.
Zoeller said Indiana’s top Do Not Call complaint in 2013 stemmed from calls offering credit services, followed by home security and home improvement calls respectively.
*Attached is a copy of Indiana’s Top 10 Do Not Call Complaint Categories for 2013.
Indiana’s Top 10 Do Not Call Complaint Categories for 2013
1. Credit Services
Credit card interest rate reduction scams often originate with a robocall promising to lower rates for a hefty upfront fee. These phony sales pitches claim consumers can pay off their credit card debt three to five times faster and save them thousands of dollars in interest and finance charges. These companies are offering services that consumers can already do for themselves at no cost, by calling the credit card company and asking for a reduced rate.
2. Home Security
Consumers should be on alert for callers offering free security systems which are often attached to pricey, long-term system monitoring contracts. A salesperson may also say your current security company has gone out of business or was purchased by the salesperson’s company, or may even use scare tactics by mentioning a rash of burglaries in your neighborhood.
3. Home Improvement
These callers range from roofers, contractors to window installers and may target areas hit with storm damage. Don’t feel pressured into making quick decisions without fully vetting the company. Repairs on your home can carry a hefty price, which means consumers can never do too much homework before deciding on a contractor.
4. Prizes and Sweepstakes
Scammers may call you and claim you were chosen to win millions of dollars and a new car, but don’t assume it is your lucky day. If a contest or sweepstakes requires that you purchase an unrelated product to improve your chances of winning, or pay upfront taxes, fees, or shipping charges in order to collect your prize, it’s a scam.
5. Computer Services
A phony tech support person may call you and claim that they are from a well-known software company. The caller says your computer is running slow or has a virus and it’s sending out error messages. Scammers may even ask you to visit a website that gives them remote access to your computer. If the caller obtains access, they can steal personal or financial information. In some cases, the caller may even ask for a wired payment or credit card information to “fix” your computer.
While Indiana’s licensed agents are allowed to make calls under the Do Not Call law, third-party companies often generate sales leads for insurance companies by making illegal calls. Consumers most commonly report receiving robocalls offering life or health insurance.
7. Debt Consolidation
Similar to the “Credit Services” calls, consumers report receiving robocalls offering to consolidate debt into one lower, monthly payment – for a large upfront fee.
An illegitimate telemarketer may call and offer you a “free” or “low cost” vacation, but you will likely end up paying hidden costs. Some of these vacations never take place, even after you’ve paid. Callers may use high pressure sales tactics and only promise the low rates at the time of the call.
9. Debt Collectors
Illegal or unfair debt collection practices are a source of frustration for consumers – especially when the debt isn’t legitimate. Many complaints phony creditors call and threaten arrest and jail time if payment is not made. If you receive a debt collection call, make sure you determine whether you are being contacted for a legitimate debt. It’s important to know your rights and how to recognize abusive collection practices.
10. Health Care
Be cautious if you are contacted by a company offering diabetic or other medical-related supplies. Don’t give your personal, financial or medical information to anyone you don’t know or a company you are unfamiliar with.