Surprise, you've just won an all-expenses paid trip to the Caribbean, or so the voice on the other end of the phone tells you. All you need to do to claim your prize is pay $100 to send the tickets. Unfortunately, after you give the caller your credit card number, you discover the claim is not true.
Telemarketing fraud threatens people of all ages, incomes, and walks of life. Anyone with a telephone can become a victim of fraudulent schemes. The following information explores Illinois telemarketing fraud laws, ways of protecting yourself, and how cases of telemarketing fraud are prosecuted.
Telemarketing Rules in Illinois
It may seem like telemarketers can call you at any time and on any phone number, but that's just not true. In Illinois, the Telephone Solicitation Act works with federal law to provide detailed rules of conduct for telemarketers, including:
- No telephone solicitations before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Telemarketers are required to identify themselves with their name, the company they represent, and a phone number at which their company may be contacted.
- You may ask any telemarketer to put you on a do-not-call list if you do not want them to contact you again.
Telemarketing Fraud Violations
Telemarketers who break the law can be penalized both criminally and civilly for violating the Illinois Telephone Solicitation Act. The failure to comply with the Solicitation Act is considered a "deceptive action" under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. This violation creates additional penalties for telemarketers that commit fraud.
If you've placed your number on the Do Not Call Registry and a business is found to have knowingly and willfully called you in violation of Illinois law, the following penalties may be assessed:
- Up to $1,000 for the first violation
- Up to $2,500 for a second or subsequent violation.
Protecting Yourself from Telemarketing Fraud
The best way to stop telemarketing fraud is to take preventative steps to protect yourself. The Illinois Securities Department offers the following tips:
- Don't buy from unfamiliar companies. Ask for written information about any offer.
- Always take your time before making a decision buy or invest. Consult a family member, friend, accountant, or others you trust.
- Never send money or give out your credit card or bank account number unless you are absolutely sure the company is legitimate
- Always be suspicious of companies that ask you to send payment by courier or overnight service.
- Always be suspicious of companies that claim you have won a "free" gift, vacation, or prize and you pay only for "postage and handling" or other charges.
Another way you can protect yourself is to simply stop the calls from coming in by registering your home and cellular phone numbers on the nationwide Do Not Call Registry. The Illinois Attorney General's Office enforces the rules of the federal Registry to make sure that businesses follow the law and consumers do not become victims of fraud.
Damages Available to Victims of Telemarketing Fraud
Under Illinois law, any person injured by a violation of the Telephone Solicitation Act may bring a civil action to recover their damages. Since this type of fraud does not always involve large sums of money, Illinois law allows judgments to be entered for three times the amount of the victim's actual damages, plus court costs and reasonable attorney fees.
If you believe you're a victim of fraud, contact the Office of the Attorney General to file a complaint.
Overview of Illinois Telemarketing Fraud Laws
The following chart highlights important aspects of Illinois laws on telemarketing and telemarketing fraud.
Illinois Penal Code § 815-413-25 violations, Telephone Solicitation Act
|Do Not Call Registry
Federal and state law allow the following businesses or organizations to call numbers listed on the Do Not Call registry:
- Organizations with which you have established a business relationship
- Tax-exempt organizations
- Businesses for which you have given prior written consent
- Calls that are not commercial or do not include unsolicited advertisements
|Blocking Unwanted Calls
Place your number in the Registry:
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Illinois Telemarketing Fraud Laws: Related Resources
Looking for additional information on telemarketing fraud and related laws in Illinois? See the following links to learn more:
Questions About Telemarketing Fraud Laws in Illinois? Contact an Attorney
Are you the victim of telemarketing fraud? Have you been charged with a fraud-related crime? Illinois law provides victims and defendants with specific rights and protections. To learn more about how Illinois law applies to your facts, contact an experienced local attorney today.