State lawmakers looking to add penalties for telemarketers

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Nineteen thousand times last year, Floridians complained about robo or sales calls to the state.

Now, state lawmakers are responding with a tougher law and higher fines, but whether it will stop the flood of calls is anybody's guess.

Hardly a day goes by without an unwanted call.

In an effort to keep up with technology, the legislation bans a new practice of sending sales calls directly to your voicemail.

Senator Dana Young a Republican out of Tampa and the bill sponsor says, “They are ruthless in their desire and willingness to call people’s cell phones.”

The bill also tried to tackle another new technology. It’s known as phone spoofing. That’s when telemarketers use a number that they think you will recognize in hopes you’ll answer.

Young continued, “Right now, they can use an artificial number and so there is no way to trace it back to the solicitor, but under this legislation, they would be required to use a number that can actually be called back, and that number would be required to be accurate."

Fines for violating Do Not Call also increase from $1,000 per violation to up to $10,000. Despite being on the do not call list, some consumers report more than 300 banned calls a year.

Barbara Rodman, a Do Not Call subscriber said, “There is no point to it.”

So, when asked if the state was doing a good enough job, the answer was as good as can be expected.

"It’s just very hard to get these solicitors because they are very creative in ways to disguise where they are calling from. A lot are calling from overseas. Now whether we can catch them, I don’t know, but it gives us one more tool in the toolbox to try and crack down on this practice," said Young.

And if all else fails, new apps on the market seek to do what government can’t: stop unwanted calls.

The legislation cleared its last committee Thursday on an 11-0 vote and is headed for passage by the full Senate.