Know Your Telemarketing Rights
In its publication “Ditch the Pitch: Hanging Up on Telephone Hucksters,” the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) outlines your rights in dealing with telephone solicitation. The following is a synopsis.
Telemarketing fraud costs Americans more than $50 billion a year. The FTC warns consumers to be alert to such common telephone marketing schemes:
- Credit card protection offers: Consumers are only liable for $50 in unauthorized credit card charges. Do not buy “insurance” to protect against greater loss. Do not give out personal information, such as credit card or bank account numbers, unless you know whom you are dealing with, and understand why the information is requested. Thieves sometimes claim to be bank security officials and ask for personal information so they can activate “protection features” on your credit card.
- Advance-fees for “guaranteed” loans: It is illegal for companies doing business by phone to promise you a loan and ask you for money in advance. Legitimate lenders may charge fees, but these are seldom required before the loan is approved. In addition, banks also consider a loan applicant's credit history. Legitimate lenders do not “guarantee” loans in advance. Legitimate fees are usually paid to the lending institution, not the person who handled the paperwork.
- International sweepstakes and lotteries: It is illegal for U.S. citizens to participate in foreign sweepstakes or lotteries whether it is over the phone, by mail, or on the Internet. Mail about foreign lotteries should be turned over to the post office.
FTC Telemarketing Rules:
- Calls are restricted to between 8 A.M. and 9 P.M.
- Telemarketers must tell you it is a sales call, the name of the seller, and what they are selling.
- It is illegal for telemarketers to lie about their products or services.
- Telemarketers must tell you the total cost of whatever they are selling, any restrictions, and if a sale is non-refundable.
- Callers promoting prizes must tell you the odds of winning, that no purchase or payment is necessary to win, and any restrictions on receiving the prize.
- It is illegal for telemarketers to withdraw money from your bank account without your express, verifiable authorization.
- You do not have to pay for credit services until those services are delivered.
- It is illegal for a telemarketer to call you if you have asked not to be called.
Do not be pressured into making an immediate payment. You can take time to evaluate the offer. If you suspect fraud, contact your local police, state Attorney General's office, or consumer protection agency.
Remember, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Do Not Call Registry
The Do Not Call Registry, a government program, allows you to submit your home or cell phone number into the registry to prevent telemarketers from calling you. Find out more at https://www.donotcall.gov/.
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