Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is urging Indiana members of Congress to work to restore a longstanding prohibition on student loan debt collectors from using robocalls to cellphones.

He said such calls pester people and run up consumers' cellphone bills. Among the biggest categories of consumer complaints his office receives are complaints about incorrect or harassing debt collection calls.

Zoeller says an obscure provision of the budget deal signed into law Monday amends the Telephone Consumer Protection Act through which Congress and the Federal Communications Commission long have banned the use of auto-dialer machines to call consumers without their permission. 

The freshly minted budget agreement between the Obama administration and congressional leaders included one specific carve-out from existing restrictions on autodialed calls. When the caller is seeking to collect debt owed to or guaranteed by the U.S. government, it won't be necessary to get consumers' consent to robo-call them, according to the legislation.

Consumer groups that opposed the exemption faced long odds in getting the language removed. The provision was buried inside a bill that raised the debt ceiling and provided a truce in Washington's intractable partisan war over the federal budget.

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