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Bill Targets ‘Deceptive Dialers’

Press Release from Sen. Joe Haynes, D-Nashville, and Rep. Gary Moore, D-Joelton

Phone Solicitors Preying on Senior Citizens

NASHVILLE – Sen. Joe Haynes, D-Nashville, and Rep. Gary Moore, D-Joelton, have introduced a bill designed to protect senior citizens by prohibiting the use of autodialers to disguise phone numbers.

“A lot of seniors are receiving misleading phone calls from people trying to sell them insurance, gadgets, things they don’t need. They think it’s a local call, and it’s not,” Haynes said.

The bill (SB2501/HB2503) would make it a Class A misdemeanor for anyone in the state to use a false or concealed number through an autodialer to call another Tennessee phone number. Offenders would be fined up to $2,500 for each deceptive call.

Haynes and Moore have received complaints from Davidson County residents saying their senior citizen relatives and friends have received outrageous contract offers from insurance agents, pest control companies and people posing as home repair agencies.

“We have families calling to say their loved ones are unwittingly signing up for these offers, and no one knows who is calling them,” Moore said. “We’re going to put a stop to these crooks.”

Political candidates, schools, businesses and charities still would be allowed to use autodialers, as long as their Tennessee phone number and name were displayed through caller identification. A political candidate would have to sign a written document authorizing the owner of the autodialer to use the candidate’s phone number.

Phone companies would not be held liable under the measure, which would apply only to calls within Tennessee.

The bill passed unanimously out of a Senate committee Tuesday. The House version is scheduled to be taken up in a committee Wednesday.

Senator Joe Haynes represents portions of Davidson County. Contact him at sen.joe.haynes@capitol.tn.gov or (615) 741-6679 or G19 War Memorial Building, Nashville, TN 37243-0220. Visit his Web site at http://senatorhaynes.com.