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Call Schumer, Maybe? Not Unless You Want to Go To Jail Call Schumer, Maybe? Not Unless You Want to Go To Jail

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Call Schumer, Maybe? Not Unless You Want to Go To Jail

Sen. Chuck Schumer is not playing around when it comes to the federal Do Not Call list. The New York Democrat has introduced legislation that would make it a felony for telemarketers to contact people who have registered for the list.

Schumer said that many telemarketers are still automatically calling numbers on the list, partially because the punishment isn't harsh enough. It's currently a misdemeanor, and he's proposing upping it to a felony that carries up to 10 years in jail time and a maximum $20,000 penalty per call.

"A family has the right to get through dinner without constantly being interrupted by phone calls from mortgage companies, credit card firms or even worse, scammers," Schumer said in a statement.  "Congress has enacted the laws to fight back against these nuisances, but the companies are using new tricks, and now we must enact stiffer penalties to make sure the laws have teeth so the regulators can bring the rogue firms to heel."

That's not to say that telemarketers aren't being punished at all. For instance, just in April a federal judge ordered defendants organizing automatic calls to pay $30 million in penalties, the largest penalty ever in a Federal Trade Commission case. The FTC alleged the defendants ran a robocall scheme that made more than 8 million calls.

Still, Schumer said many telemarketers are skirting the law. So how bad is it? Well, the homepage for the official Do Not Call website includes a warning about "scammers" who are calling people at home and claiming to represent the official registry.

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