In his commentary about robocalls and cold calls from telemarketers, which appeared in the Nov. 30 Emporia Gazette, Mr. Bill Hartman requested a response from state representatives. Robocalls and telemarketing calls are two different things, and we welcome the opportunity to respond about both.

First, and to state the obvious, Mr. Hartman’s complaints about robocalls are valid. Those calls are annoying. No one we’ve heard from appreciates them. In almost every case, robocallers don’t even actually want to sell you anything, regardless if it is insurance, a car warranty or a fancy trip. They just want your money. And we’re not talking about thousands or even millions of annoying calls. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reported in 2020 that U.S. consumers received nearly 4 BILLION robocalls each and every month. Everyone wants government to do something about it.

The fact is that different government agencies and private companies are doing something. They are using all available avenues to fight back.

The number of robocalls we, as U.S. consumers, receive would be even greater if telecom companies were not stopping billions more attempted calls. Unfortunately, robocallers are becoming ever more adept at using technology — the very technology that improves our lives in so many ways -- to circumvent tools designed to stop those annoying calls. In response, the telecom industry has invented and must keep inventing new ways to stem that tide.

In addition, both the FCC and the Kansas Attorney General (AG) have fined robocallers and telemarketers. This year, the Kansas AG collected a $15,000 fine from Genesis Health Clubs Management and, in 2016, collected $110,000 from a California company. During the past few years, the FCC has collected $450 million in fines from robocallers, including a $225 million fine against a health insurance marketer headquartered in Texas.

Those fines may sound like a drop in the bucket, but keep in mind that most robocall operations, which can be set up quickly and inexpensively, are overseas. That means they can’t be touched by U.S. law enforcement or prosecuted by our justice system. Here in the U.S., where robocallers and telemarketers can be prosecuted, those fines get the attention of American companies and help to influence their behavior.

We disagree with Mr. Hartman, who believes the Kansas AG’s office is incompetent. We believe that office investigates and prosecutes any violation of law within its jurisdiction. But we completely understand and share Mr. Hartman’s frustration. After all, we receive the same robocalls! But defunding the AG’s office won’t bring the relief he seeks.

Now let’s address telemarketing cold calls. Mr. Hartman would like the Kansas Insurance Department to identify and penalize insurance companies that may be cold calling Kansas consumers.

Legitimate, licensed insurance companies are allowed to make marketing calls to phone numbers that are not registered on the Do Not Call list. Companies that ignore the No-Call list face penalties. The Insurance Commissioner is clear that if the commission receives a complaint from a resident about a Kansas licensed insurance company, the staff will investigate and take appropriate action.

You can register your phone number on the No-Call list at www.donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382 1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236) from the phone you want to register. It’s free. Telemarketers have 31 days from the time you register a phone number on the Do Not Call list to stop calling you. If you receive a cold call from any company and have registered your phone number (cellular or landline) on the Kansas No-Call list, you can report your complaint to the AG’s office at 785-296-3751. Please keep in mind that legitimate calls from companies with which you have previously done business, such as a pharmacy or repair shop, are not covered under the Kansas No-Call Act. The rules also allow political calls, debt collection calls, charitable calls, purely informational calls and surveys. But those calls can’t also include a sales pitch,

There’s no simple solution that will stop robocalls or illegitimate telemarketing calls. But government agencies and telecom companies are using available tools to reduce the number of those calls, and to prosecute and fine offenders. We appreciate the opportunity to provide some background and information about this annoying issue.

(7) comments

sail

Ration,,, who believes computers have any protection under the constitution ? I’m not trying to restrict capitalism , but common sense regulation would be appreciated in stopping robo calls.

Rationa1

Merry Christmas, Sail.

sail

Who owns the transmission mechanism that these unwanted scammers use? ????? Make the owners just as responsible as the scammers ! MAKE IT ILLEGAL FOR A COMPUTER TO CALL ME …. The cost would then be cost prohibitive for the scammers !!!!! It’s a simple solution , put the tele industry on the hook and take away the ability for computer calling !

Rationa1

I thought we didn't believe in regulations that inhibit the ability of businesses to do business? If these calls are really so annoying, won't the free market adjust by consumers refusing to business with the companies? End the regulation on robo-calls and tele-marketers, and the market will solve the problem itself. Caveat emptor, etc. etc.

Louis

It was great to get a reply and our representatives should be thanked, but the point was missed a couple of times.

The suggestion of "defunding" was for the No Call Program only. At 4 billion calls a month it seems that this program is not very effective.

Plus insurance companies are licensed to sell in Kansas by the Insurance Comm. They should be fined and then have their license reviewed for renewal following their abuse with calling constantly.

sarelon

I agree with most of what Schreiber says here...except the part about the Kansas AG's office not being incompetent. The last time we had an AG this bad it was Kline.

Gary Lukert

As he is Republican, WE KNOW HE IS BAD! It is in the Republican D N A. Most Republican Politicians WANT Republican Police State!

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