OKLAHOMA CITY - A Duncan state senator is hoping he can devise a plan to stop those pesky robocallers who are flooding Oklahomans' phone lines.
State Sen. Paul Scott, R-Duncan, said he's planning to hold a interim study at the Capitol about the issue. A constituent complained that he had to change his number because he was receiving so many robocalls.
"I just really want to see what we can do, if there's anything at all," he said. "I would love to be able to do something as a state and work with the (Attorney General's) Office or even the (Oklahoma) Ethics (Commission)."
Ranging from annoying offers of automobile warranties to ominous warnings of active warrants or owed debts, the Federal Trade Commission defines robocalls as containing recorded messages instead of a live people.
Robocalls are often scams, and those trying to sell something are illegal - unless a company has written permission from the customer, the federal agency said.
Politicians can legally use robocalls as can charities soliciting donations. Calls to pass along information like school delays, flight status changes or reminders about appointments or prescriptions also are allowed, according to the Trade Commission.
Despite being on the federal "Do Not Call List," Scott said he probably receives 30 to 50 robocalls a day on his home phone. Some of them use - or spoof - people's names in his community in an effort to appear legitimate.
"I believe in freedom and free speech, but whenever you're abusing some things and being dishonest in your practices, I believe that's wrong," he said.
The co-author of the interim study, state Sen. Brent Howard, R-Altus, referred comment to Scott.
Alex Gerszewski, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, said in 2018 the state agency fielded 7,852 robocall complaints. In 2019, the agency has received 4,634 complaints.
He said robocalls are difficult to enforce because when they're traceable, they often originate overseas. Their location is a roadblock to prosecution and investigations.
Also, a lot of calls are now being "spoofed" - or deliberately falsified on caller ID - in an effort to hide a caller's identity, Gerszewski said. That makes numbers nearly impossible to trace because spoofing allows a number to appear that a call is coming from a legitimate source, he said.
Janelle Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites.