Robocall is an automated call system that delivers pre-recorded messages to a target audience. Since it is recorded, there are hardly live conversations with the caller. During the call, the receiver may be asked to press a button on the phone to speak live with the caller. Robocalls started as a legitimate means that organizations use to pass important information to a defined audience that opted for the service.
Politicians often use it as an effective tool during political campaigns. It is also an integral part of telemarketing in New Mexico and the United States at large. For a robocall to be considered legitimate, the receiver must have given the caller written permission to make such calls. The major difference between legitimate robocalls and scam calls is that robocalls are regulated, and the receiver can choose to opt-out of the service.
On the other hand, scam calls are usually unsolicited, which means the receiver’s consent is not sought before placing the call. However, in recent times, scammers have turned robocalls into a tool for scam calls and a means for obtaining sensitive information from unsuspecting victims.
What are New Mexico Robocall Scams?
New Mexico robocall scams refer to all fraudulent crimes perpetrated by scammers using robocall. Most times, scammers impersonate legitimate businesses and organizations to steal money and personal information from victims. Phone scammers patronize robocalls as a means of identifying choice targets. Typically, scammers target these calls to several phone numbers, but not all the recipients are active.
The robocall may instruct the receiver to press a button to opt-out of subsequent robocalls to determine an active number. When unsuspecting targets press the button as instructed, the scammer knows at once that they are active phone numbers and would make them the focus of the scam attack. Although the State of New Mexico Office of the Attorney General has increased the awareness against scams, there is still a surge in the number of robocall scams in the state.
In 2019, the average New Mexican received 102 robocalls in the year, totaling 235 million robocalls to the residents. That accounts for a 44% increase from the figure in 2018. Despite the abuse of robocalls, the state has not abolished it because it has many legitimate uses in New Mexico.
Does New Mexico Have Anti-Robocall Laws?
As stipulated in the Trade Practices and Regulations, it is illegal to solicit purchases of goods and services from people using robocall without their consent. The person has to consent to the pre-recorded call and must have established a business relationship with the caller. “Established” here means the business relationship must have been existing before the call and must be voluntary.
The statute also states that telephone solicitations via robocall are considered unlawful if the recipient’s number is enlisted in the National Do-Not-Call Registry. It is also illegal if a caller attempts to block a resident from using a caller identification service. In 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was enacted by the U.S Congress to checkmate the growing rate of unauthorized telemarketing robocalls. It prohibits telemarketers from calling residents on automated voice calls without their prior consent.
However, after revising the TCPA rules in 2012, "Established Business Relationship” was repealed as a valid criterion for making robocalls to residents. It became illegal to call residents without properly written consent from them. Telemarketers are also mandated to implement a user-interactive and automated opt-out functionality in their robocall system. This is to enable recipients to choose whether to continue with the robocalls or not.
Are there Special Requirements for Robocalls in New Mexico?
To qualify as a legitimate robocall in New Mexico, the robocall must meet certain special requirements. These special requirements help the residents to identify whether a robocall is legal or not and reduce the risk of robocall phone scams. These special requirements include:
- The caller must have obtained the consent of the recipient before the robocall via written permission.
- The caller must disclose the caller’s identity and the call’s purpose within the first fifteen seconds of the call.
- The call must be strictly within the hours of 9 am to 9 pm. Getting a robocall outside of this stipulated time indicates that it is illegal and potentially harmful and should be avoided.
- The robocall must include an “opt-out” option to enable the recipients to decide when to disconnect from the calls.
- The call must not keep the recipient disconnected from the caller for more than the time stipulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- In the case of legitimate telemarketing, the caller must not first request the recipient’s credit card details. The request is only legitimate if the recipient has indicated an interest in using his credit card for transactions.
These special requirements do not apply to certain organizations or agencies for legal reasons. Exceptions under the FTC include:
- Robocalls from certified health care providers, such as calls from a pharmacy you subscribe to, reminding you of your prescription refilling.
- Absolutely informational robocalls from relevant authorized agencies such as calls from airlines to give customers information regarding their flights. The exemption here holds as long as there is no attempt to solicit sales or purchases.
- Informational robocalls from banks to their subscribers.
- Debt reminder calls from authorized agencies.
How Do I Stop Robocalls?
Apart from being disturbing and unpleasant, incessant robocalls can also land residents in unforeseen scams. Entertaining unauthorized robocalls increases the risk of a resident falling victim to fraudulent activities through robocalls. Credit card details and other sensitive information can be hacked and may eventually lead to heavy financial fraud.
Residents can take some practical steps to prevent or stop unwanted robocalls from reaching them. Some of these steps include:
- Register your number in the National Do-Not-Call Registry managed by the FTC. If a number is enlisted in the registry for at least three months, any attempt to reach it via robocall is judged illegal. You can register online or call 1-888-382-1222 with the phone number you want to enlist. Registration and enrolling in the registry is free.
- Disconnect from any call once you suspect or identify that it is an illegal robocall.
- Be careful when picking calls from numbers outside of your contact lists.
- Maximize the call-blocking features of your phone. If your phone does not have a built-in call blocking feature, you can download and install third-party applications with such functionalities. Examples of such third-party apps are Mororobo, Hiya, and Truecaller. They are all available in most of the popular mobile app online stores.
- Report any illegal robocall cases to the Federal Communications Commission online or reach them via phone call with the number 1 (888) 225-5322. Alternatively, you can contact the FTC to file a complaint online or call them via 1 (888) 382-1222.