There's a national Do Not Call law, allowing consumers to prevent calls from telemarketers, and many states have adopted their own versions. Now, the State of Indiana is poised to take it one step farther.

When the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) established the national Do Not Call list, it was designed to help consumers prevent intrusive telemarketing calls to their residential phone lines. Mobile phones were less of a factor because there is no central directory of cell phone numbers and, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), placing telemarketing calls to a wireless phone is, and always has been, illegal in most cases.

But in recent years, an increasing number of consumers use only a cell phone, prompting some unscrupulous telemarketers to undertake the effort to build databases of mobile numbers in an effort to pitch to this untapped market.

Expanded protection

In the Indiana legislature, the Judiciary Committee has approved a measure to expand the state's Do Not Call protections to specifically cover both cell phones and VoIP lines, such as the ones provided by companies like Vonnage.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller sought the update to the current law by clearly defining a "residential phone number" to include any Indiana cell phone number used by an Indiana resident at home. Indiana Representative Eric Koch was among the lawmakers providing sponsorship for the measure.

"Cell phone users deserve the same level of privacy protection afforded to landlines," Koch said. "This bill aligns the law with technology."

Reaching out to college students

Over the next several days, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said he will visit college campuses to talk with students about the importance of the Do Not Call list and why they will want to register their Indiana cell phone numbers should the measure be passed into law.

College students, most of whom opt out of paying for an additional landline in their apartments or dorms, are no strangers to loans and credit card debt and may be accustomed to receiving interest rate reduction calls or credit repair offers, many of which are scams or illegal in Indiana. Having the ability to register an Indiana cell phone number on the Do Not Call list will make it easier for students to identify a legitimate call from a fraud.

"The Do Not Call list has the added benefit of acting as a warning sign to Hoosiers who are on the list," he said. "If you get a sales call on a number you know is registered, that's a red flag the person on the other end is ignoring Indiana laws and it's probably a scam. And the same goes for text message solicitations."

Being placed on the Do Not Call list will eliminate most telemarketing calls, but not all. Under Indiana law, certain groups may still make calls to those on the list including insurance agents, realtors, newspapers and most charities.