Local Leaders Are Tackling Spam Phone Calls from Telemarketers

March 7, 2018, 11:14 am EST | Share:

CHARLESTON, SC (ALEX HEATON, WTAT-TV) — Lowcountry lawmakers say they are now doubling down on spoof phone calls. A way telephone marketers mimic your area code and your cellphone prefix hoping that you’ll pick up.

Telemarketers have reinvented the wheel. Moving from landlines to cellphones and finding ways to trick you into picking up the phone.

“Oh goodness, I have it all the time,” said resident Carol Creach. “I’ve already had about five calls today. I think a person from my hometown is calling and it ends up being one of these calls. It’s been going on a pretty good while.”

What they do is mimic your area code and sometimes the prefix of your cellphone. It’s called spoofing and state lawmakers like Lowcountry Rep. Katherine Arrington are determined to make it stop.

“This is a different way for telemarketers to find a new way in,” she said. “At least for companies not based in South Carolina, we wanted to take that ability away from them.”

A group of lawmakers, including four from the tri-county area, are behind House Bill 4286. The goal is to prohibit telemarketers from calling consumers with a spoofed South Carolina area code or number unless the telemarketer maintains a physical presence in the state.

“It’s just about the fact that if you don’t want to pickup on an 866 number or 1-800 number, when we see an 843 number popup on our phone, especially for me, I think it is a constituent. I’ll drop everything for a constituent,” she said. “But when you have a telemarketer calling to sell you insurance from Arizona – that is not something I need to be or anybody needs to be distracted with.”

While several people we spoke with agree the proposed law is necessary, they wish telemarketers couldn’t reach their cell phones in the first place.

“I would say probably every three weeks probably I get at least one,” said resident Christy Wurst. “I try to be kind, but it’s kind of like, ‘Why are you calling, how did you get my number?’”

Rep. Arrington believes spoofing is how telemarketers have adapted in the last 15 years since Congress passed that National Do Not Call Registry. She believes there is enough support in the House for that bill to be passed.