State lawmaker wants minimum fine for ‘Do Not Call’ violations to double

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A new bill could help Hoosiers receive fewer unwanted calls, potentially avoiding getting caught up in a costly scam.

According to State Representative Jeff Ellington, a Republican from Bloomington, the Indiana Attorney General's office has received close to 4,000 telephone solicitation complaints so far in 2018.

Ellington was part of a summer legislative study committee that reviewed utilities in the state where he learned about the on-going issue Indiana residents with a landline or a cellphone are experiencing.

"There are good actors that do telemarketing," said Ellington. "They abide by our rules and by our federal "Do Not Call" list and state list, but there are others who do not, and we want to put those companies out of business."

Ellington said an individual or business that breaks the state's law can face a $5,000 fine. A corporation behind the call can receive a $10,000 penalty.

Ellington wants that to double to $10,000 and $20,000, respectively.

He said he plans to write legislation to introduce to the General Assembly when it meets up in January. The state representative wants the bill to allow Indiana businesses to sign up for the "Do Not Call" list, which he said they can't do under current state rules.

"They are your cellphone, these are your landlines you pay for," said Ellington. "They aren’t open to the public. There is that right to privacy I think that goes to residential phone numbers and businesses alike."

Ellington said he has a lot of work to do between now and January.

He said he wants input from several different industries to know what the state can do to reduce or eliminate the problem, what funding the attorney general's office needs to fight the issue, and what kind of equipment is needed to combat unwanted calls and trace them back to who placed the call.

Legislation would also help the sate work with other states to better address the issue.