Senator Denise Grimsley
State Senator Denise Grimsley

Ever gotten a phone call that the caller ID says is from someone local, only to answer it and discover a telemarketer on the other end? You’re not the only one. This time it happened to the wrong person – a state senator who decided to do something about it.

State Senator Denise Grimsley, Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner, sponsored the new law that allows phone companies to block calls from numbers that are known “spoof” numbers – a fake phone number used to hide the real number.

“Make no mistake about it: these calls are more than obnoxious, they’re criminal,” said Senator Grimsley. “Most of these are overseas rackets targeting us with scams and fraud in mind. We don’t want any Floridian caught off guard by scammers.”

Grimsley learned first hand what it’s like to be on the other end of predatory phone marketing. A woman only identified as “Elizabeth” made aggressive prerecorded calls to try and sell the Senator a vacation package. Like most people, Grimsley didn’t like it, and filed legislation to stop it. The legislation was approved earlier this year and took effect July 1.

People who enroll in the federal or state “Do Not Call List” should be exempt from these types of phone calls. Telemarketers, however, either ignore the law or use new technology to circumvent it.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services maintains the state’s do not call program and it’s clear this is a major issue. Florida residents filed more than 500,000 complaints in 2017.

The new Grimsley-sponsored law should provide some relief from these complaints, empowering telephone companies – at the customer’s request – to block a number that is for in-bound calls only or if the marketer uses a non-working number to and trick the customer into answering the call.

If elected as Agriculture Commissioner, Grimsley would oversee the existing state program.

“As commissioner, I’m committed to blowing the lid off these deceptive practices and making fraudsters think twice before they target anyone in the Sunshine State. I’m glad my Florida Call Blocking Act is now law, but we can’t rest with that. These predators are savvy and they’re always thinking of a new way to hit us. We have to be a step ahead.”