Michigan Telemarketing Fraud
In Michigan, a telemarketing call is an unsolicited phone call made by a business to try and sell you a product or service, or an extension of credit.
Telemarketing fraud can come in the form of sweepstakes or prize calls, credit repair schemes, or investment rip offs -- just to name a few. The elderly are particularly at risk for this type of crime. The number of telemarketing scams aimed at seniors has been on the rise, prompting warnings from the U.S. Attorney.
One of these so-called “grandparent scams” has been most rampant in Michigan, according to a consumer protection expert in that state.
In most instances, victims will report telemarketing fraud to the federal government, but here is a general overview of Michigan state telemarketing laws.
The following table highlights the main provisions of the Michigan Home Solicitation Sales Act and the Consumer Protection Act. See Federal Telemarketing Rules, Property Crimes, and White Collar Crimes for more information.
|Code Section||Michigan Home Solicitation Sales Act (PDF), MCL 445.903, Michigan Consumer Protection Act|
|Enforcement Agencies||Michigan Attorney General Consumer Protection Division|
Persons who suffer loss as a result of a violation of the law may bring a private lawsuit to recover actual damages or $250.00, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney fees.
Violators are also subject to penalties under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, because a violation of the Home Solicitation Sales Act also constitutes a violation of the Consumer Protection Act.
Additionally, certain violations are punishable as a misdemeanor, or by imprisonment for not more than six months or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both. (This penalty applies to commission of acts that are defined as being unfair or deceptive by the act, such as certain misrepresentations by telephone solicitors. It does not apply to violations of the do-not-call provisions).
|Hours||Calls can only come between 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.|
|Do Not Call Registry||Consumers can register for the National "Do Not Call List."|
|Who Can Bring an Individual Lawsuit?||The Attorney General, a county prosecutor, or individual consumer may bring a lawsuit under the Consumer Protection Act. Any person can bring a lawsuit for declaratory or injunctive relief. Only a person who suffers an actual loss can sue for civil damages or join a class action lawsuit.|
|What Does the Law Prohibit?||
1. Misrepresenting or fail to clearly disclose:
2. Making false or misleading statement to induce payment for goods or services;
3. Requesting payment or submitting a credit card charge before receiving express verifiable authorization showing that the consumer has agreed to purchase;
4. Calling a consumer who has requested that he or she not receive calls from the seller on whose behalf the call is made;
5. Intentionally blocking or interfering with the caller ID function on a consumer's phone;
6. Making a call that consists in whole or in part of a recorded message;
7. Making a telephone solicitation to a telephone subscriber whose number is on the do-not-call list.
Federal Protections against Telemarketing Fraud
The FCC, FTC, and U.S. Department of Justice enforce federal telemarketing laws including violations of the National "Do Not Call" Registry and deceptive business practices including:
- the FTC's Telephone Sales Rule ("TSR");
- the FCC's Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA"); and
- Fair advertising and consumer protection laws like the Federal Trade Commission Act.
If you feel you have been victimized by a telemarketing scam, here is some contact information that can help you:
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
(877) FTC-HELP, (877-382-4357)
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
(888) CALL-FCC (1-888) 225-5322
Because telemarketing laws can sometimes get complicated, it may be a good idea to consult an experienced consumer protection lawyer in Michigan if you have questions about your specific situation.
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