“Indiana’s Do Not Call law protects registered numbers from receiving certain telemarketing calls,” Zoeller said. “Unfortunately, illegitimate businesses and scammers skirt the law by trying to deceive consumers with phony sales pitches. That’s why if you are on the Do Not Call list and receive a sales call or text message you can count on it being a scam.”
The next quarterly deadline to block annoying sales calls and text messages is Tuesday, May 21. Consumers can register their residential landline, cell, VOIP or prepaid wireless numbers.
Zoeller said thetelemarketing calls in these categories aim to separate consumers from their money or collect consumers’ personal information.
1. Card Services
More than 920 consumers reported receiving an automated call from a woman, who says her name is Rachel (or Kelly, Courtney, Heather, etc.) from “Cardholder Services,” offering to lower their credit card interest rates. Rachel warns that this “is your final notice,” but Zoeller says Hoosiers should just hang-up on Rachel and her sisters. If you follow through with the prompts, you will be connected with a representative who will collect an upfront payment from you without any intention of providing services or a refund.
2. Home Security
Since January, more than 370 complaints have been filed about an automated call which mentions an FBI report on the number of home break-ins and offers a “free” home security system. These telemarketers have no relationship with federal law enforcement agencies. The caller will take your information and sell it to a home security company that may charge up to $45 per month for monitoring services.
3. Prize/Sweepstakes Scams
So far this year, more than 110 consumers have received calls from a live operator that says “You have won $2 million from Publisher’s Clearinghouse. All you need to do is transfer $250 for fees and taxes via Moneygram, Western Union or GreenDot money card…” This is a scam designed to separate you from your money. Once you wire money, it’s like using cash and it’s nearly impossible to get back.
In Indiana, most robocalls are illegal regardless of whether or not a consumer’s number is registered on the Do Not Call list. Exceptions include calls from school districts to students, parents or employees and businesses advising employees of work schedules. It is also legal if a live phone operator first obtains your permission before playing a pre-recorded message.
Zoeller said consumer complaints help the Attorney General’s office bring enforcement actions against violators and stop unwanted calls. Since 2009, the office has obtained 57 settlements or judgments against companies that violated Indiana’s telephone privacy laws. The total awarded to the state has been more than $4.9 million and the total collected is more than $791,800. Zoeller said this money collected is used to defray the cost of enforcing the state’s telephone privacy laws.
Individuals do not need to re-register for the Do Not Call list unless their address has changed. To sign up or to confirm a number is already on the list, visit www.IndianaConsumer.com or call 1.888.834.9969.
Out-of-state area codes can also be added as long as the billing address is located in Indiana. Those consumers who are registered and receive an unwanted call can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office by visiting www.IndianaConsumer.com and clicking on “file a complaint.”