(Lemay, MO) (AP) – For more than a decade, Missourians have been able to ban most telemarketing calls from their landline phones, a protection that has been extended to cellphones following a bill-signing ceremony on Thursday.
Gov. Jay Nixon was in St. Louis County to sign into law a measure allowing cellphone numbers to be added to the state’s no-call list for telemarketers. The law prohibits most phone solicitations to cellphones placed on the list. It also bans unwanted text and multimedia messages.
Nixon was attorney general in 2000 when the state first adopted the no-call law for landlines in response to thousands of consumer complaints about unwanted telephone solicitations. He said that by 2003, 2.5 million Missourians had signed up for the list.
The list currently has about 1.8 million names. Nixon and Koster said that is because many people now use cellphones as their primary phones.
The new law bans automated messages, known as robocalls, with some exceptions. It does not prohibit politics-related calls, though Koster said he wished it did.
Koster said his office typically gets 150 to 200 calls a week from residents complaining about telemarketing calls or text messages to cellphones. Last year, the state assessed fines and penalties for No Call List violations amounting to about $1 million.
Koster said there are challenges despite the law. An increasing number of telemarketing calls are from overseas, making enforcement more difficult. Some also used blocked return numbers, another move that hampers enforcement of the No Call List.
The law provides for penalties of up to $5,000 per violation. Residents can sign up online at ago.mo.gov, or by calling 1-866-buzzoff (1-866-289-9633).