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Attorney General Greg Zoeller fights robocalls, asks for tougher legislation

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WASHINGTON, D.C.– Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller testified before a Senate committee Wednesday, once again urging for robocalls to be stopped for good.

Zoeller was representing 25 other Attorneys General in the push to pass the HANGUP Act. It would repeal an amendment to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act that allows companies to make debt collection robocalls to cell phones if a debt is owned or guaranteed by the U.S.

“We were very disappointed with the exception that was carved out without this type of hearing. We’re having a hearing after the fact,” said Zoeller.

Zoeller believes debt collection robocalls are relentless and often inaccurate. Of the nearly 700 debt collection complaints his office received last year, 90 percent were because the caller was calling the wrong person.

“We do in the state of Indiana receive remarkable number of complaints each year,” he added.

However, opposers of the HANGUP Act argue that thousands of companies, large and small, are being sued for simply doing their job.

“Robo calls are not what my clients send,” said attorney Becca Wahlquist, testifying on behalf of the U.S. Chamber Institute of Legal Reform. “So for example a client that has millions of customers has a lot of automated systems. A customer’s credit card payment is rejected. The customer has provided a telephone number as their point of contact to the company. The company then contacts the customer to let them know your credit card’s been rejected.”

Wahlquist said the biggest driver of litigation is if that number has been reassigned and the company doesn’t know. And the person that is on the receiving end of that calls gets upset because they did not give their consent.

Senator Clair McCaskill wasn’t buying it.

“You guys need to understand this. This is the biggest consumer problem in the country. No bigger problem. And some of these witnesses, you all are in here, whining about these poor businesses and consumers really want these. They don’t want them. They don’t want them.

“You all are in here, whining about these poor businesses and consumers really want these. They don’t want them. They don’t want them,” she said.

“We’re very worried about where this ends,” said Zoeller. “We’re against creating a safe harbor.”

Hoosiers can be put on the state’s Do Not Call list by filling out an online application here. If you are on the list and want to file a complaint, you can call 1-888-834-9969.

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