N.J. reconsiders special unit to crack down on telemarketers

 Employees answer calls at a call center (Gautam Singh/AP Photo, file)

Employees answer calls at a call center (Gautam Singh/AP Photo, file)

New Jersey lawmakers are once again considering a bill to establish a telemarketing fraud unit in the Division of Consumer Affairs.

The full Legislature failed to act on the bill last year, and Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Atlantic, said many residents who are on the do-not-call list are still being annoyed by telemarketers.

“It is an invasion in people’s lives,” he said. “They’re working harder than they ever have before in their lives. They’re tired. They want to eat their dinner in peace. They want to go to sleep at night. They want to be left alone.”

Laws to punish offending telemarketers are already on the books, but a fraud unit is needed so there are personnel devoted specifically to focus on the problem, Van Drew said. That could help track down deceptive telemarketers who block their phone numbers or use ones that can’t be called back to complain.

Even though the bill failed to advance last year, Van Drew said it did gain traction.

“It went through our committee. It was toward the end of the session, and this is the kind of bill that will take a little bit of time,” he said. “Some of the most important bills we’ve ever worked on unfortunately sometimes take years.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.