AUGUSTA – How many times have you gotten a phone call from an out of state telemarketer, or someone with a 207 number that turns out to be a computer? Some state legislators are trying to change that.
“It is something that nobody likes, no Mainer that I’ve talked to likes them, and it’s the sort of policy that we should absolutely be addressing at the state level,” said Sen. Erin Herbig (D – Belfast).
But just what that legislation looks like is still being worked out.
State lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are taking steps to protect Mainers from being scammed, and prevent the calls from happening.
Legislators said Mainers, especially older residents, have been scammed into sending money to a fake cause.
The caller sometimes hides behind a 207 area code, even if they’re actually calling from out of state or out of the country.
And lawmakers are concerned the sheer number of calls are disruptive to businesses.
“I’ve visited over a hundred businesses in Waldo County, and I’ve sat with business owners while they continually pick up the phone,” said Sen. Herbig about seeing Mainers get telemarketer calls, “and they have to pick up the phone because they’re waiting for orders.”
Multiple bills have been proposed, including one presented earlier this week by Rep. Ryan Tipping (D – Orono). His bill would fine offenders $500 for the first offense and $1,000 thereafter.
And the issue is affecting lawmakers too.
“I was in Greenville doing business for my company, saw a Greenville call come in,” said Sen. Stacey Guerin (R – Glenburn). “It was a spam call, so not only were they spamming me, but they were tracking me into the North Maine Woods in Greenville.”
Legislators said they’ve talked with the Maine Attorney General’s Office about how fines could be enforced.
“We don’t want to put in laws that can’t be enforced,” said Guerin. “If it’s against a company in India how are we going to collect the fine?”
Lawmakers are also asking Maine’s Secretary of State to reach out to the National Association of Secretaries of State to see if states that already have laws like this have had any success in stopping those calls.