Dothan (WTVY)-- People are tired of those annoying telemarketing calls and so is Alabama State Representative Paul Lee. “I get them every day,” he said.
They peddle extended auto warranties, debt consolidation, lower credit card interest, and promise to wipe out student loans.
Most frustrating for consumers is the calls appear to originate from local telephone numbers, making them more likely to be answered. The practice is known as “spoofing.”
Lee, and many others, often fall for the spoofing scheme because he fears the calls could be from constituents needing help with a problem. Now, he's skittish every time an unrecognized number pops up.
Next week, Lee (R-Dothan) and others will meet to discuss how to best to battle the escalating problem of spoofing.
He's encouraged by the interest of Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh, even though the state utility regulatory agency currently lacks jurisdiction in the matter.
“One thing we will look at is giving the P.S.C. authority (over robocalls),” Lee promises.
In January there was an all-time high for robocalls — 5.2 billion nationwide, according to YouMail, a company that collects the data. On average, Americans receive more than1500 robocalls per second.
While Lee will support new laws, if necessary, he also believes the best way to handle the problem may be to work with communications companies. However, he also has concerns.
“The AT&T's of the world can fix some things but, for smaller companies, it's more difficult, more challenging and costly. So, we have to be mindful of that and not do something that puts them out of business,” Lee said.
On Wednesday Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai stepped up pressure on communications companies to stop the unwanted calls. He insists on caller authentication systems by the end of the year.
"American consumers are sick and tired of unwanted robocalls, this consumer among them. If it appears major carriers won’t meet the deadline to get this done this year, the FCC will have to consider regulatory intervention. Caller ID authentication will be a significant step towards ending the scourge of spoofed robocalls,” Chairman Pai said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Lee points to a bill already filed for consideration in the upcoming Alabama legislative session to curb robocalling. He believes, though, every possible solution should be considered.