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home : most recent : statewide implications January 18, 2019

1/6/2019 11:22:00 AM
Bloomington state legislator wants to reign in unwanted phone calls

Mike Grant, Washington Times Herald Staff Writer

A southern Indiana lawmaker is fed up with strangers crawling inside his pocket and disturbing his life. District 62 State Representative Jeff Ellington of Bloomington is one of a number of legislators that want to put more teeth into Indiana's do not call law.

“There are computers making hundreds of thousands of calls every day to Hoosiers,” said Ellington. “They are using other people's phone numbers to hide who they are and are a nuisance and, in some cases, people looking to commit theft and fraud.”

Indiana put its “no call” law into effect in 2002 and it was an immediate success. Now, more than 2 million Hoosiers are on that list. But a dip in the economy coupled with new technology has turned the telemarketers, scammers and boiler room callers back into business.

“In 2008, the economy went down and then after that it began to pick back up,” said Ellington. “The telemarketers went through the same thing.”

“They have now turned to computers and tricks to hide their identity and get you to answer the phone,” said Ellington. “You are not supposed to use a number that isn't yours but Indiana has no spoofing law so the callers are using other people's numbers.”

The intrusive and aggravating calls are becoming more than a nuisance for a lot of people in Indiana.

“I have to weed through so many of these calls,” said Ellington. “Part of the problem is that many are from overseas and instead of being from legitimate companies they are from scammers who are looking to commit fraud, by selling poor products, health care that doesn't work, get you to pay for products you never ordered. Some of them are just phishing expeditions looking to gather people's personal information.”

For Ellington, Indiana needs to move to be part of the solution to the problem with scammers.

“The feds are working on going after those calls from overseas,” he said. “What we can do is give the Indiana Attorney General more resources and staff to pursue these people and keep up with the technology.”

Not only does he want a law that will make the state tougher on scammers but also create a penalty system that will make them decide to not do business here.

“I think we should double the penalties,” said Ellington. “We should make the fines enough that it puts them out of business and we should arrange it so that we can prosecute our way up the corporate chain.”

He says too often the people who run the scam companies disband them and then turn around and go across the hall and set up a new shop doing the exact same thing.

“Let's go right up the chain and go after the investors and the people who have been hiding behind the corporate laws,” said Ellington. “We need to put all of them out of business for good.

Ellington, who represents parts of northeastern Daviess County, Greene and Monroe counties, says that if the law is put in place it will not remove all of the scammers and nuisance calls, “but it will sure help cut them down.”

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