New Florida law seeks to curb spam calls

Local News

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Our phones are supposed to be magical devices that connect us to the internet, news and each other but all too often they become annoyance beepers as scammers and spammers try to reach out and touch someone.

Walton County resident Ryan Hurtt says he can get as many as 20 calls a day.

“Most of them have to do with extending my car warranty,” he said. “Some of them have to do with extending my student loan debt which doesn’t exist because I don’t have any.”

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, Jimmy Patronis, said he deals with the daily headache.

“I probably get four a day,” he said. “I had one earlier today.”

BEST PRACTICES TO STOP UNWANTED CALLS

Patronis takes some time every time he gets a call to try and make it stop.

“Once the call goes through I go to my phone and you can block that number with a simple action,” he said. “I probably got a couple of hundred numbers blocked on my phone. I don’t know if that helps but I’m going to eliminate them one by one. Death by a thousand cuts, maybe. I will put them out of their misery.”

Americans received about 28 spam calls a month last year according to the phone app maker Truecaller. The company adds that 56 million Americans reported losing money to scams and about $19.7 billion was lost to these calls.

“It feels like I want to take my phone and chuck it out in the Bay,” Hurtt said.

This week the Florida Legislature passed a new law that prohibits some calls without written consent, removes authorization for phone dialers, and increases the financial penalties for violators. Lawmakers saying they hope the new law will return our phones to what they should be.

“It should be an extension of yourself,” Hurtt said. “It should be something that is used to connect to the people that you love.”

Patronis said that he strongly supports the legislation and believes it will make a difference. However, he also acknowledged that even more work needs to be done.

“I think so much of this could be dealt with at the carrier level,” he said. “We just have to get their attention.”

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