The “Do Not Call” law and the recently enacted statute in New Jersey banning companies from sending unsolicited text ads were supposed to drastically reduce annoying unsolicited calls and texts from telemarketers, but constituents are still complaining to lawmakers.

(Mario Tama, Getty Images)

One legislator said the laws are strong, but enforcement is not.

Legislation (A-986) approved by the full Assembly last Thursday would create an investigative unit within the Division of Consumer Affairs dedicated exclusively to cracking down on telemarketing abuses. The senate version of the bill (S-247) was awaiting a hearing before the budget committee.

“There are federal laws and there are plenty of state laws, like the ‘Do Not Call’ list and laws that say what is required from marketers and we’re finding folks that are just ignoring the law,” said Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Hamilton). We need somebody that has the resources and the authority to go after these telemarketers.”

Under the bill, the new unit would investigate cases including:

  • Calls made to individuals on the division's "Do Not Call" list;
  • Calls in which telemarketers fail to immediately identify their purpose;
  • Calls in which telemarketers block their information from caller ID; and
  • Calls made to cell phones.

“I’m being told by people that they’re getting calls saying, ‘You owe money for your utility bill. Send this (money) by wire.’ As much education as you can do, if there’s not enforcement from authorities we’re not going to be able to stop this,” Benson said.

Unwanted telemarketing calls still interrupt the lives of New Jersey residents even those who have clearly stated that they’re not interested explained another bill sponsor.

"It's critical that we are proactive about cracking down on companies that casually break the law on a regular basis. The investigative unit that this bill creates will be essential as we fight back against the uncompromising telemarketers who pester New Jerseyans incessantly," said Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak (D-Cape May Court House) in an emailed statement.

Telemarketers who violate New Jersey's "Do Not Call" are currently subject to a fine of up to $10,000 for a first offense and up to $20,000 for each subsequent offense, but they have to be caught breaking the law in order to face the punishment.

Kevin McArdle has covered the State House for New Jersey 101.5 news since 2002. Contact him at Follow him on twitter at @kevinmcardle1.