Zoeller wants federal help to stop unwanted solicitor calls

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The calls keep coming.

"We see you've signed up to get a mortgage or something cut from your payment," says Shana Ferguson of calls she received.

Brandon Fecher is annoyed. "I'm getting tired of the same company calling to see if I want to go back to school."

They're talking about telemarketers. Many of them make so-called robo-calls to homes and cell phones, despite repeated requests to stop.

"Kind of makes you wonder what is the point of the Do Not Call List, or is it working," asks Ferguson.

"I'm frustrated too," says Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

So frustrated is Zoeller, who runs Indiana's Do Not Call List, that he wants Washington, in his words, to "act a little more, say, boldly."

Last week alone, Zoeller's office took over 500 consumer complaints about telemarketers.
"They call me three or four times a week," says Fecher. "I'm getting a little sick of it."

In the first half of 2012, telemarketing complaints were twice as high as the same time last year. It's the same for the federal Do Not Call List.

Half the calls from practically untraceable numbers, often overseas exchanges.

"Every robo-call you get is a scam," says Zoeller, whose office has gotten almost 15,000 complaints the first seven months of this year. That's more than all of 2011.

In Indiana, those automated robo-calls - sent out tens of thousands at a time - are illegal. But when one company gets caught, another gets their call list.

Next month, Zoeller plans to testify at a Washington summit on the problem, pushing for more technology to fight robo-calls. For now, Zoeller says consumers can help themselves by hanging up immediately on anything that seems like a robo call.

Some calls tell you to "press one if you don't want to receive calls from this organization in the future." Don't do it, says Zoeller.

"If you press a number, they know someone is on the other end." Zoeller says they will then sell your number to other telemarketers as a hot prospect - someone who answers the phone and will sit through a sales pitch.

"Your best bet is hang up as quickly as you can," says Zoeller.