Surge in Robocalls Will Be Focus of State Senate Hearing

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Are you tired of getting solicitations via automated phone call, also known as robocalls? If you think you’ve been getting more of these calls than ever, it’s probably not your imagination, and now elected officials want to do something about that.

At the request of state Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester), the Senate Democratic Policy Committee has announced that it will hold a public hearing Thursday, March 21 in Chester County on ways to curb robocalls.

The hearing about robocalls will be held at 10 a.m. in the East Whiteland Township Building, 209 Conestoga Road, Frazer, PA 19355.

The panel is expected to discuss legislative solutions to restrict and reduce robocalls, which are automated, recorded phone advertisements,” a news release stated.

According to the YouMail Robocall index–which tracks robocalls–it is estimated that Americans received 48 billion robocalls in 2018, which represents a 57 percent increase over the number received in 2017. 

“Apart from robocalls being annoying and intrusive, it is estimated that 40 percent of these calls are scams,” Dinniman said. “The explosive growth of robocalls cries out for a legislative remedy that would step up enforcement, improve authentication and give consumers a simple means to block these calls.”

According to the news release Dinniman has introduced legislation, Senate Bill 306, that would enable consumers to opt out of robocalls, prohibit robocalls on holidays and require telemarketers to give consumers easy opt-out options.

“(Dinniman) has also called for cracking down on deceptive technology that enables telemarketers to mimic local phone numbers,” the robocalls release said.

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee is chaired by state Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh/Northampton), whose district includes Hellertown borough and Lower Saucon Township.

“Rallying public and legislative support behind combatting robocalls will be the easy part,” Boscola said. “The difficulty will come with finding workable solutions that specifically curb robocalls without hampering reasonable and legitimate ways to reach consumers.”

A number of smartphone apps are now available to help screen robocalls. Simply ignoring phone calls from unknown numbers is another way many consumers say they now avoid answering robocalls. Tell us: How do you deal with robocalls, if you receive them?

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