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What Is a Mississippi Robocall?

A robocall involves the delivery of pre-recorded messages via a computerized autodialer. Telemarketers mostly use robocalls to contact consumers, while political bodies use them during political campaigns. Robocalls are also utilized for emergency or public-service announcements. Some of these robocalls use personalized audio messages to imitate an actual live call.

A robocall may direct the receiver to press certain numbers to speak with a live agent or remove themselves from the call list. Legitimate organizations use robocalls to contact their customers; however, they first obtain prior consent from the customers before contacting them. Government agencies also use robocalls for the dissemination of information. These, as mentioned, are legal. Robocalls are advantageous due to their cheap nature and efficiency with little human involvement.

Unsolicited robocalls are illegal, and for this reason, the recipient’s consent is very crucial. However, there are certain situations where consent is not needed. These include:

  • Informational messages - E.g., Robocalls to remind you of an appointment, robocalls to inform you about a canceled flight, etc.
  • Calls on debt collection - Robocalls contacting the receiver to collect a debt.
  • Calls from health care providers such as hospital and pharmacy, e.g., Robocalls reminding you to refill your prescription
  • Robocalls from charitable organizations, usually to members or prior donors
  • Robocalls from political bodies.

What Are Mississippi Robocall Scams?

Mississippi robocall scams refer to the Illegal use of robocalls to contact recipients with the intent to defraud or steal from them. These phone scams attempt to defraud the user by stealing their identity, financial information, or any other thing of value. These illegal robocalls include telemarketing scams (automated sales calls from companies unauthorized to contact you) and outright theft attempts. Some robocalls contain pre-recorded messages used to lure users into scam deals that appear legit, such as an all-expenses-paid trip. Scammers often mask their identity and exact location by using caller ID spoofing.

How Are Robocalls Used in Mississippi Scams?

Scammers use robocalls to perpetrate criminal acts. They sometimes do this by spoofing their Caller ID. This way, their exact location and number cannot be easily determined. They then take on identities of government agencies and legitimate organizations such as Social Security and Internal Revenue Services, that the target is familiar with.

Usually, these calls direct the receiver to press specific numbers to be removed from the call list or to speak with a live agent. However, in most cases, this is a ploy to identify the active numbers among all the targeted numbers. If the recipient proceeds to speak with a live agent, they may be tricked into releasing sensitive information.

Robocall scammers use several tactics claiming that a person's debit or credit card information was illegally stolen or that a person's bank account has been flagged with irregular activities. Robocall scams may also involve identity theft and convince a person to buy certain bogus goods that could be fake or nonexistent.

Robocalls not solicited are illegal and can be reported as a potential scam. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provides more information on Caller ID spoofing and how to avoid them.

Does Mississippi Have Anti-Robocall Laws?

In 1991, the TCPA was legislated by Congress and passed into law. TCPA is a federal law that stands for Telephone Consumer Protection Act; its purpose is to restrict telemarketing calls and the general use of autodialers or automated telephone equipment. This Act outlined various new restrictions on the use of auto-dialers and pre-recorded voices; it was enacted to create a balance between individuals’ privacy and the rights businesses have to engage in legitimate telemarketing practices. It granted the right to sue over illegal robo texts and robocalls to private citizens, offering statutory damage up to $1,500 for every legal violation.

As a requirement, callers are to obtain consent before:

  • Making telemarketing calls (non-emergency) using a prerecorded voice message to a residential phone line.
  • Making phone calls(non-emergency) using a pre-recorded voice and auto dialer system to a wireless number.

The FCC established a new regulation soon after the TCPA was passed, requiring telemarketers to maintain an exhaustive internal do-not-call list. This way, people who get unsolicited calls or even texts will just have to tell the company to stop contacting them. The company is obligated to respect such requests, placing the person on the list, which is to be reviewed and updated regularly. In a robocall lawsuit, every TCPA violation is $500, unless the company in question "willfully and knowingly" violated the law; the civil penalty here triples to $1,500.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 is the main federal law prohibiting robocalls; however, Mississippi and many other states also have their laws to ensure compliance. Mississippi has the Telephone Solicitation Act.

In addition, the Mississippi Public Service Commission maintains a No Call List, and telemarketers are not allowed to call the phone numbers on this list. Therefore, registration on the No-Call List can be helpful to protect one from telemarketing fraud. Consumers can register online or by calling toll free 1-866-622-5567.

Are There Special Requirements for Robocalls in Mississippi?

There are certain special requirements for robocalls in Mississippi that mandatorily have to be complied with. Telemarketers have to abide by these rules and restrictions to avoid being viewed as scams and attract penalties. The following requirements are covered under the Mississippi Telephone Solicitation Act:

  • Without the receiver's consent, the caller is not permitted to make an automated call to encourage or persuade the recipient to purchase any type of product or service.
  • Calls may not be made between 9 am and 9 pm Mississippi local time.
  • Phone calls made through automated dialing-announcing devices must be operated by a person who must do all of the following:
  • State the nature of the call, the name, telephone number, and address of the organization or business they represent.
  • Ensure the automated dialing-announcing device is disconnected from the telephone line upon the termination of the call by either the caller or the receiver.
  • Make it a duty to ask or confirm that the receiver consents to hear a prerecorded message.
  • Numbers on the Mississippi No-Call register and the National Do Not Call Registry must not be sent robocalls.

How Do I Stop Robocalls?

While some robocalls are legal, many are not and are outright scams. These unwanted and unsolicited robocalls are the largest source of complaints the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) receive. Therefore, to restrict these robocalls, the following steps should be taken:

  • Register for the No-Call program via the Mississippi No Call App, mail, visit the website, or call the toll-free number: 1-86NOCALLMS (1-866-622-5567).
  • Add your telephone number to the National Do Not Call Registry maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Do not answer calls from unknown numbers, and if you must, hang up immediately.
  • Hang up from a robocall where the caller/recording asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls. Scammers use this trick to identify potential targets.
  • To report suspicious and illegal robocalls, file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Residents can also report by calling the FCC on 888-225-5322 or the FTC on 877-382-4357.
  • Use call-blocking tools on your mobile device to block unwanted calls. iPhones and Android phones have features that enable you to block unwanted calls. Some of these mobile applications available are Truecaller, Nomorobo, Hiya, and YouMail on the Apple store and Google play store, for Android and iPhones, respectively.