In his commentary on robocalls and cold calls from telemarketers, which appeared in the Emporia Gazette on November 30, Mr. Bill Hartman sought a response from state officials. Robotic calls and telemarketing calls are two different things, and we welcome the opportunity to respond on both.

First, and to state the obvious, Mr. Hartman’s robocall complaints are valid. These calls are annoying. No one we’ve heard of likes them. In almost all cases, auto callers don’t even want to sell you anything, whether it’s insurance, a car warranty, or a luxury trip. They just want your money. And we’re not talking about thousands or even millions of boring calls. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reported in 2020 that U.S. consumers were receiving nearly 4 BILLION automated calls each month. Everyone wants the government to do something about it.

The point is, different government agencies and private companies are doing something. They are using all available means to retaliate.

The number of automated calls we receive, as American consumers, would be even greater if the carriers did not stop billions of additional call attempts. Unfortunately, automated callers are increasingly adept at using technology – the very technology that improves our lives in so many ways – to bypass tools designed to stop those annoying calls. In response, the telecommunications industry has invented and must continue to invent new ways to stem this tide.

In addition, the FCC and the Kansas Attorney General (AG) have imposed fines on robocallers and telemarketers. This year, Kansas AG fined $ 15,000 from Genesis Health Clubs Management and, in 2016, $ 110,000 from a California company. In recent years, the FCC has collected $ 450 million in fines from automated callers, including a $ 225 million fine against a Texas-based health insurance distributor.

These fines may seem like a drop in the ocean, but keep in mind that most automated calling operations, which can be set up quickly and inexpensively, take place overseas. This means they cannot be touched by US law enforcement or prosecuted by our justice system. Here in the United States, where robocallers and telemarketers can be prosecuted, these fines are grabbing the attention of American businesses and helping to influence their behavior.

We disagree with Mr. Hartman, who thinks the Kansas AG office is incompetent. We believe that this office investigates and prosecutes any violation of the law within its purview. But we fully understand and share Mr. Hartman’s frustration. After all, we get the same robocalls! But funding for the GA office will not provide the relief he seeks.

Now let’s turn to telemarketing cold calls. Mr. Hartman would like the Kansas Department of Insurance to identify and penalize insurance companies that can cold call Kansas consumers.

Legitimate and licensed insurance companies are permitted to make marketing calls to telephone numbers that are not on the Do Not Call List. Companies that ignore the no-appeal list face penalties. The Insurance Commissioner is clear that if the commission receives a complaint from a resident about a licensed Kansas insurance company, staff will investigate and take appropriate action.

You can save your phone number on the no-call list at www.donotcall.gov or by dialing 1-888-382 1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236) from the phone you wish to register. It’s free. Telemarketers have 31 days from the time you register a phone number on the Do Not Call list to stop calling you. If you receive a cold call from a business and have registered your phone number (cell or landline) on the Kansas No-Call List, you can report your complaint to the GA office at 785-296 -3751. Please keep in mind that legitimate calls from companies you have done business with, such as a pharmacy or repair shop, are not covered by the Kansas No-Call Act. The rules also allow political appeals, debt collection appeals, charity appeals, purely informational appeals and polls. But these calls cannot also include a sales pitch,

There is no easy way to stop robocalls or illegitimate telemarketing calls. But government agencies and telecommunications companies are using the tools available to reduce the number of such calls and to prosecute and impose fines on violators. We appreciate the opportunity to provide information on this annoying problem.