EDITOR'S NOTE: Despite the presence of a Do Not Call list for both landlines and cell phones, telemarketers are still a major nuisance in many states, including Mississippi. Tuesday, such companies were called 'predatory' by one official as he announced he was filing charges against them. WTVA's Mike Russell attended that announcement, and filed this report.
NETTLETON, Miss. (WTVA) - They're a pain in the ear. Telemarketers. One of their tactics, known as "Caller ID Spoofing" (using local numbers to get you to answer their calls) is well known, and especially bothersome. Brandon Presley, Mississippi's northern district public service commissioner, wants to put an end to all that.
"They use Caller ID spoofing because they know curiosity kills the cat," said Presley at a Tuesday press conference. That's just one reason why he filed charges against 16 out of state telemarketers. He says all of them have violated Mississippi's No Call laws -- and calls them a "scourge" on the country.
"Telemarketing has gone from being just an annoyance to now, in many cases, a case of fraud, and trying to scam people out of money," said Presley. These sixteen companies made hundreds of calls into Mississippi. And we want to send a message to these companies and other companies around the nation that if you call into Mississippi, we're coming after you..."
And he's certainly not the only disgruntled consumer. When it comes to telemarketers, no one is happy.
BEN MILLER: "Well, usually I hang up on them, honestly. I just don't even give them time to hear what they got to say."
BETH TRAYLOR: "I'm registered on the Do Not Call list, but that doesn't matter. They just keep calling anyways."
HULON WILLIAMS: "Well, you don't want me to say on camera.... I just tell them I don't want none of their calling, and I try to tell them, but they'll call again."
BOBBY THOMAS: "If I don't recognize the number, I just decline it."
TOMMY HUGHES: "I just don't answer the phone (laughs)."
RUSS DARBY: "I hate them. I'm one of these that if I want to buy something, I'll look it up and go buy it myself. I'm not going to do it for telemarketers. And half the time, they lie to get your attention."
BRENDIX GLASGOW: "My wife kind of scolds me for doing that, but I kind of prank around with them, and then hang up."
If the charges stick, the telemarketers could be forced to pay a fine of $5000 per call and that will add up quickly. It might just be a way to hang up on them permanently.
And by the way, if you don't have it already, you can download an app called "PSC No-Call" to block telemarketer calls, or you can call Brandon Presley's office direct at 800-637-7722.