Zoeller Partners With Businesses To Help Block Unwanted Calls

By Emma Koch - 21Alive

Zoeller Partners With Businesses To Help Block Unwanted Calls

August 16, 2013 Updated Aug 16, 2013 at 1:39 PM EDT

INDIANA (21Alive) -- Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office is now sharing caller-ID numbers of suspected illegal telemarketers with companies that block spam callers for their customers.

Since January, the Attorney General’s office has received more than 8,600 Do Not Call complaints and more than half of those complaints are about prerecorded calls, more commonly called "Robocalls".

Zoeller said that while many investigations into the source of those calls turn up empty due to internet-based technology called "Voice Over Internet Protocol" (VOIP) most of the reported caller ID numbers are now being shared with three companies that can use the numbers to block more calls for their customers.

“Sharing our database of spam callers with private businesses allows us to help Indiana consumers who pay for additional call-blocking services and are tired of receiving annoying sales calls,” Zoeller said. “These new partnerships add another layer to the ongoing efforts of my office to cut down on the number of unwanted calls Hoosiers receive.”

The Attorney General’s office has already shared thousands of spam caller-ID numbers with Nomorobo, Ooma, Inc. and the Kedlin Company. Zoeller said his office is also looking to partner with other businesses and organizations that offer similar call block technology.

Nomorobo was one of two winners of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public challenge to develop the best overall solution to block illegal robocalls. The company received $25,000 for its proposal which focused on intercepting and filtering out illegal prerecorded calls using technology to “blacklist” robocaller phone numbers and “whitelist” numbers associated with acceptable incoming calls. In addition to receiving telemarketing numbers from the Indiana Attorney General’s office it also receives spam call numbers from the FTC’s database.

The Kedlin Company reported that the data supplied by Zoeller’s office resulted in 35,000 unwanted calls being blocked for its customers nationwide over a two month period – that’s about 583 blocked calls per day. Ooma Inc. is an Internet phone service provider which offers its customers a community blacklist option to stop telemarketers before they call.

Zoeller said that when consumers file Do Not Call complaints they are asked to give the caller-ID number that appeared when they received the telemarketing call. Those reported caller ID numbers, as well as the date and time of the call or text message, and name of the telemarketer are shared with the partnership companies – all at no cost to them.

The next quarterly deadline to help stop annoying sales calls and text messages is Tuesday, Aug. 20. Consumers can register their residential landline, cell, VOIP or prepaid wireless numbers for free by visiting www.IndianaConsumer.com or by calling 1.888.834.9969.

Individuals do not need to re-register unless their address has changed. Out-of-state area codes can also be added as long as the billing address is located in Indiana. Those consumers who are registered and receive an unwanted call can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office by visiting www.IndianaConsumer.com and clicking on “file a complaint.”

Zoeller said consumer complaints help the Attorney General’s office bring enforcement actions against violators and stop unwanted calls. Since 2009, the office has obtained 110 settlements or judgments against companies that violated Indiana’s telephone privacy laws. The total awarded to the state has been more than $18.7 million. Zoeller said this money collected is used to defray the cost of enforcing the state’s telephone privacy laws.

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