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Why robocallers can stalk you on your cell phone

Xiumei Dong | June 10, 2016
Outdated laws make it easy for telemarketers and scammers to have their way.

But they can’t call cell phones, Lovich pointed out. “Under the TCPA, these calls place the hospital at high risk of violating the statute,” according to Lovich.

Last July, the Federal Communications Commission expanded the health care exemptions to cover cell phones, permitting health care providers to place prerecorded voice and text messages to cell phones, without the consumers’ prior express consent. The idea was to allow for relay of important “health care messages” as defined and covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Lovich praised the reform but said “it just touches the surface and does not get to the root of the problem.”   

One legitimate robocall proved less popular. A provision in the Obama administration’s Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 allows government debt collectors to use auto-dialers to help pressure borrowers to pay their student loans, mortgages, and taxes. Saunders and other witnesses voiced concern that such calls would overwhelm folks at a time when they are more vulnerable than ever to telemarketing. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said the exception would unfairly stress out college students and recent graduates already overburdened with debt. “Blasting them with robocalls, running up their cell phone bills and putting them at risk for fraud only adds insult to injury,” he said.

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill agreed. The Democrat said her own family, as well as regular citizens she talks to every day, are continually pestered by robocallers. The TCPA is the best tool to protect the consumers, she said.  

“This is not that complicated. All you have to ask is the permission of the person you are calling,” said McCaskill.

 

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