State senator plans bill to target robocalls, spoofing

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Robocall management company YouMail says Americans received 48 billion robocalls in the last year. A state senator is working on legislation to target those calls.

State Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) says the automated calls bombard people to the point of harassment, and some use legally questionable practices to target the elderly. 

Dinniman’s bill would allow people to remain on the Do Not Call list permanently, instead of having to re-register every five years.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Palmyra resident Kelly Altfather said. “I think especially with personal cell phones, I think it’s really inappropriate to be calling.”

“They drive me nuts because it’s frustrating for me to pick it up and then end it, and also because the numbers keep changing, there’s no way for me to block it,” said Gary Bankston, an Allentown resident.

The legislation would require telemarketers to allow an opt-out at the beginning of the call.

Dinniman also wants to put more resources into cracking down on “spoofing”, when someone causes a false telephone number to display on caller ID to make it appear as if they’re calling from a legitimate business then trick people into giving up personal information.

State Rep. Jim Cox (B-Berks, Lebanon) created a similar bill that passed the House unanimously last year but did not clear the Senate.

YouMail says robocalling surged 60 percent last year. Last month alone, Pennsylvanians received about 160 million robocalls. 

“I wish there was a way to stop it immediately,” said David Koons, a Lebanon resident. “It’s really annoying.”

Dinniman additionally wants to ban telemarketing robocalls on legal holidays.

“Sundays should be shut down,” said Levi Peck, of Chambersburg.”Probably after a certain time at night. We don’t need phone calls at 9 o’clock when we’re trying to get kids in bed.”

Dinniman is gathering co-sponsors for his bill and hopes to introduce it in the next two weeks.

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