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Indiana lawmaker: Robocalls ‘out of control’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A fake caller ID and hiding their real location.

Robo callers are getting sneaky, and using technology as cheap as $2 to trick you into answering your phone.

Tuesday, lawmakers met at the Statehouse to talk about how to disconnect annoying robocalls.

When was the last time you received a robocall at the office or at home, or on your cell phone?Lawmakers said it’s time for those calls to stop.

Tremaine Muhamad, of Indianapolis said, “It’s just annoying to me, if you ask.”  

It’s so much of a problem, Indiana’s Attorney General’s Office said Monday, they received 3,905 complaints of unwanted calls in 2018. 68 percent of those were robocalls.

Krystal Hackney of Danville said, “They’re really annoying! I get at least three a day.” 

Tuesday, state lawmakers met to talk about how to stop those calls, and if penalties should be harsher.

The Attorney General’s office said the penalty for breaking Indiana’s Do Not Call Law the first time is up to a $10,000 fine. It’s $25,000 for each call after that. State Representative Dale DeVon chairs the summer study committee. 

“A lot of times, I think the penalties may be not as severe. So, the risk isn’t that bad,” DeVon, a Republican from Granger, explained. “So, do we need to increase some of the penalties for some of those robocalls that are coming out there?”  

State Representative Jeff Ellington said, “I think it’s gotten out of control.” 

Republican State Rep. Jeff Ellington is working on a bill now that would allow small business to opt-in to the Do Not Call list, and double the penalties for the lawbreakers.

“We’re gonna take those penalties not only to the individual who’s making those calls, and the company, but those penalties would go up the chain-of-letter to the CFOs and the CEOs,” Ellington, a Republican from Bloomington explained. “So they’re held responsible and cannot back away from those charges.” 

Senior Deputy Attorney General of Data Privacy and Identity Theft Unit of Indiana’s Attorney General’s Office Marguerite Sweeney said Tuesday, “There are three state laws covering unwanted robocalls, but often, county prosecutors don’t have the resources or jurisdiction to track down the culprits overseas.”

Lawmakers were not necessarily focused on legitimate robocalls, such as ones from your doctor’s office, political robocalls, or ones from your child’s school. 

Douglas Swetnam, Section Chief at the Indiana Attorney General’s office explained Tuesday that robocallers can download software for as cheap as $2 to help them fake where they’re calling from. Sweeney said the AG’s Office works regularly with other states and said the Federal Communications Commission is thinking about new caller ID regulations.

“What they propose is is that caller ID would have authentication similar to other software and social media like Twitter where you get a blue check mark to prove that you’re really who you are,” said Sweeney.

Ellington said he’s going to take what is talked about over the next few months at these meetings and tweak his bill ahead of the next legislative session.

For tips and what to do if you get a robocall, click here for information from Indiana’s Attorney General’s Office.

To stop unwanted robocalls and texts, click here for information from the Federal Communications Commission.