Action 9: No call complaints soaring in Florida

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LONGWOOD, Fla. - Action 9 exposes how the government no -call lists fails to protect thousands of consumers from a barrage of sales calls.

For one local family, that means dozens of harassing calls every week.

Ron Trull said he's haunted by telemarketers most nights.

"I don't want their calls. I want it to stop," said Trull.

One company pitches credit cards, as can be heard in several recorded messages like one left Trull's machine.

"'You could be eligible for a lower credit card rate on your existing card,'" the message said.

Trull thought by joining a government no -call list years ago that he was safe.

"They just flat won't quit," he said.

Action 9 found consumer rage soaring. WFTV checked, and in 2007, about 4,500 folks on Florida's do-not-call list claimed they still got calls. Last year, there were 2 ½ times more complaints that came in -- around 12,000.

Consumer groups said technology is partly to blame.

"Literally, companies can set up in minutes, open, start calling, start taking credit cards and shut down overnight," said Better Business Bureau Vice President Holly Salmons.

Action 9 found a telemarketing company at a Longwood office that has used several names and has many do-not-call complaints. The company just opened the location days before Action 9 found them.

"If consumers say, 'Stop calling,' will you?" asked Action 9's Todd Ulrich.

But experts said many companies use spoofing software to create phony numbers that show up on your caller ID.

"The telephone company told me they were using fake numbers. They weren't registered to anybody," said Trull.

Action 9's investigation found as complaints exploded, state investigators took action against fewer companies. In the past year, out of 12,000 do-not-call complaints, Florida collected fines from just five companies.

One phone room manager who wants to remain unidentified said he's never worried about a state crackdown.

"There's no fear of that whatsoever," he said.

The manager claims the telemarketing operations he managed didn't avoid people on the list.

"Is it any kind of priority at all?" asked Ulrich.

"Absolutely not," he said.

"Couldn't make money?" Ulrich asked.

"It would be impossible," said the manager.

It's an attitude that leaves folks like Trull angry.

"You don't hear about them fining anybody," said Trull.

Just last week, Florida's Division of Consumer Services and the Federal Trade Commission shut down one unlicensed telemarketer called Green Savers in Longwood.

The company is accused of using robo-calls that harassed many people on the no -call list.