Phone scams have been happening throughout Connecticut for years, but in 2020 things became more intense.
According State Representative Craig Fishbein (R-90), who represents parts of Cheshire and Wallingford, incidents have become much more persistent, aggressive, and targeted to specific individuals who may not have the means to defend themselves. Fishbein has first-hand experience dealing with these scams, and that’s what has prompted him to draft a bill to address the issue.
“It’s almost on a daily basis I get one of my constituents complaining, or I get messages myself, about people trying to extend the warranty on my car,” Fishbein said. “It’s ridiculous how persistent and annoying these calls can get. When I answer the phone, I actually want to be having a conversation with someone, not get scammed over the phone.”
Fishbein introduced a bill titled “An Act Prohibiting Telemarketing of Automobile Warranties, Insurance Products and Utility Services” on Feb. 18 to the Connecticut General Assembly (CGA). It is designed, according to Fishbein, to “strengthen prohibitions on unsolicited and predatory marketing”.
“What I want to do here is bring attention to the issue and get something done about this,” he added. “We are lucky to have strong bipartisan support for this as well.”
The bill, which is in its infancy, will need to go to the General Law Committee to draft the exact language and intention of the legislation.
“This is the beginning of what I hope will be an very effective piece of legislation,” Fishbein explained. “The language right now is very broad and vague so that we can make sure we cover all the issues and to ensure that people know what is going on with this bill.”
Fishbein has three co-sponsors on the bill; Rep. Gary Turco, (D-27), Rep. David Rutigliano (R-123), and Rep. Devin Carney (R-23).
As for what can exactly be done to address the scamming issue, Fishbein has two options that he believes the state can explore in the near future.
“The first thing is utilizing the Federal Do Not Call List,’ he said. “That way, there is a written record. Or the state can look into holding the phone companies responsible for allowing the predatory marketing to happen through their services. Either way, we are beginning to draft language to bring about stronger punishments on the phone companies who allow this to happen.”
While Fishbein is dedicated to combating the scamming issue, he is careful to keep in mind that not all companies are trying to scam people.
“We definitely don’t want to harm any businesses that are trying to conduct something legitimate over the phone,” he mentioned. “I’ve submitted written testimony that we aren’t trying to target anyone who is legitimately trying to reach people.”
As far as next steps are concerned, the General Law Committee will meet to discuss the appropriate language for the bill before it is presented to the rest of the CGA.