Larry Barker’s illegal phone solicitation investigation spurs new bill

Politics - Government

It was a two-part investigative piece by Larry Barker taking on illegal telemarketers. Larry fought back, and lawmakers at the Roundhouse were paying attention. 

It’s the phone calls people don’t want to get, phone solicitors ringing and ringing. It’s not only annoying but illegal, and they’re doing it by robocalling, which is pre-recorded sales calls; by ignoring do no call lists and using phony caller ID.

“Telemarketers are making these calls not to annoy you, not to waste your time. They want to get to your money,” said Ethan Garr, telemarketing expert. “They want to get your identity. They want to hurt you because that’s how they put money in their pockets. It’s an awful way to make a living in my opinion but that’s why they’re doing it.”

And unfortunately, they called Larry Barker.

“So we embarked on a year-long investigation to take on the anonymous phone peddlers,” said Larry in his investigative piece.

Larry’s two-part investigative piece identified nearly a dozen scammers, took them to court and won.

KRQE News 13 asked state lawmaker Rep. Matthew McQueen (D-Santa Fe) if he watched Larry’s investigative pieces.

Rep. McQueen said he was listening, and said he felt the pain of harassing phone solicitors, too.

“A lot and a lot more recently,” said Rep. McQueen. “I get a lot of, they’re trying to sell health insurance and I get calls all over the nation, random states. But then I also get calls from local numbers with my own prefix and it’s like, ‘Oh, I need to answer that,’ and it turns out it’s one of those solicitations.”

Rep. McQueen drafted a bill that updates the old anti-phone solicitation act.

“The old statute talks about a telephone line, and not only a lot of people these days have a cell phone, but a lot of people only have a cell phone, and we just want to make it clear that it also applies to cellular phones,” said Rep. McQueen.

It’s all so that your wireless phones can be part of the do not call list.

“A lot of the phone calls are illegal and a lot of them are hard to stop,” said Rep. McQueen. “This bill won’t solve everything, but it will make it clear that cellular phones are protected in this way.”

Federal law allows people victimized by illegal telemarketers to sue them in court. Larry did, and won tens of thousands of dollars. That money was donated to local nonprofit organizations.

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