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Phone scammers, robocallers beware

The Public Service Commission and Secretary of State’s Office will soon have a new tool to help them fight scammers that target Mississippians.

Currently, charitable organizations are required to register with the Secretary of State’s Office, but many are exempt from solicitation requirements under state law and can solicit via phone call or text message.

Beginning July 1, organizations paying telephone solicitors will be covered by the Telephone Solicitation Act and will be subject to penalties if they fail to comply.  Failure to register and/or calling consumers on the No Call List could result in the Public Service Commission issuing fines of up to $10,000 per violation.

Sen. Sally Doty of Brookhaven co-authored the bill that made changes to the act.

The changes are aimed at protecting consumers from scam callers soliciting Mississippians, through robo-calling or other means, and claiming they represent a legitimate organization.

“This change in the law will protect consumers,” said Public Service Commission Chairman Brandon Presley. “There are folks out there who call or text and say they are with a charity and solicit donations, but they aren’t and they’re lining their own pockets. This change is one way we can keep scam artists from stealing money from our citizens. It’s affecting everyone, but hitting our elderly on fixed incomes especially hard. That’s a shame and a disgrace. We must do everything we can to protect the public from those who wish to do them harm.”

“Mississippi is an incredibly gracious and charitable state,” Southern District Commissioner Sam Britton said. “However, there are bad actors out there posing as legitimate organizations that intend on taking advantage of people willing to give. We look forward to working with the Secretary of State’s Office to continue to combat this problem to further protect Mississippians from scam artists and to hold these criminals accountable.”

The PSC and Secretary of State’s Office encourage anyone motivated to donate to a charitable organization to research the organization prior to giving to ensure that they are legitimate and avoid ever giving out private information, particularly a credit card number over the phone.