In April, there were more than three billion robocalls made in the United States, according to the New York Times. These automated calls, made to one's cell phone, seek to sell something. Sometimes the recording tells the caller that they owe money to the IRS or another group.
Republican State Senator Denise Grimsley wrote a bill to battle back, which goes into effect July 1. We spoke to her about how Floridians can protect themselves.
WLRN: As a consumer, do I have to do anything or is it on the providers?
Grimsley: You need to go onto the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and sign up for the [Do Not Call] list. And then you also need to sign up for the federal No Call list as well.
Are all robocalls illegal or just the ones that are coming from overseas?
They are all illegal if you are on the Do Not Call list; certain charities are exempted and certain political calls are exempted but otherwise anyone trying to get your personal information - that's illegal now. But in addition to this bill the calls that are coming from overseas, carriers will have the ability to block those.
Do you foresee any issues where these robocallers are just going to try to find a way around this now?
Well I think anytime you pass legislation the bad guys, with the advent of technology, are looking for ways around it and it's just something that we have to stay ahead of. But I'm as frustrated with it as anyone else listening to this program because I mean, like I said, they're annoying but they are after your information.
Have you heard from a lot of your constituents about this?
Oh yeah. Everywhere I go to speak that's the number one complaint and I always ask them ‘do you think the Do Not Call list is working?’ and they say no. I mean resoundingly no. It's not working.
Senator Grimsley, how many times have you heard people come to you and admit that they fell for the scam ... they fell for something like that?
It’s usually senior citizens that ... didn't quite know ... maybe they don't hear well and they only get part of the conversation and so then they get their personal information. That's typically what these guys are banking on. And I get the question a lot of times, ‘why is it so much more prevalent now'? It’s technology ... which [is] relatively new.
Again as a consumer am I hoping the state law is going to be enough or am I depending on the federal government to protect me?
I think you get a duplication here of a federal role and a state law. So you're adequately protected as a Floridian. Based on my conversations with all of the carriers they want to do something about this. And I think some of them are doing that and I believe in a year from now we're going to see a reduction in some of these calls.