Tennessee Telemarketing Fraud Laws
Telemarketing fraud involves using unsolicited sales calls to con people out of their money. For example, the victim may be persuaded to pay for goods or services that the telemarketer never intends to provide. Generally, telemarketing is a federal crime prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice because it frequently crosses state lines. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is the federal agency that investigates and prosecutes telemarketing fraud in the U.S.
However, Tennessee also has telemarketing fraud laws to prosecute this crime within its state. The Tennessee Office of the Attorney General and Reporter investigates and can prosecute telemarketing fraud in the state.
How to Protect Yourself from Telemarketing Fraud
Prevention is the best way to protect yourself from telemarketing fraud. Steps you can take to stop telemarketing fraud include:
- Register for the Tennessee Do Not Call list with the Tennessee Regulatory Authority online or call 1-877-872-7030.
- File a complaint against Do Not Call list violators online
- Don't give any unsolicited caller any personal information (including your Social Security Number, bank account numbers, or the name of your spouse or pets).
- If you feel pressured to buy something, just hang up.
Tennessee Telemarketing Fraud Laws: Statutes
The main provisions of the Tennessee telemarketing laws are outlined in the table below.
Tennessee Code Title 47, Chapter 18, Part 15: Consumer Telemarketing Protection
Tennessee Code Title 65, Chapter 4, Part 4: Telephone Solicitation
What is Prohibited?
Telemarketers, at the start of a call, must identify who they are and the company they represent. Telemarketers can't:
Unfair or Deceptive Acts and Prizes
Unfair or deceptive acts are also prohibited. These acts include falsely passing off goods or services as another or of a different quality than they are, causing confusion or misrepresenting the source of goods or approval of them, and claiming goods are new if they're not.
As for prizes, a company can't require payment as a condition to obtain information about or to receive a promotional prize, unless the person has received a notice with the following written prize information:
Do Not Call List
Telemarketers must register with the Tennessee Regulatory Authority (regulates utilities) each year, paying $500 for the Do Not Call list regulatory and enforcement expenses.
Automatic Dialing Machines
To use any automatic dialing equipment and recorded message system (ADAD) to call numbers in Tennessee, a company must register with the TRA, who can revoke permits if needed. The automatic dialer operator must maintain a bond of $10,000 to continue operating in the state.
A person or company can't use ADAD equipment or the U.S. mail to solicit calls to their number. Phone companies can't provide telephone lines to telemarketers for automatic dialers or US mail.
Automated calls or recorded messages are permitted if initiated by the person called, concern a good or service already purchased, relate to debt collection, or are made by a K-12 public school to prevent absenteeism of students.
Credit Card Companies
When a credit card company offers by telephone solicitation a service and the cardholder doesn't authorize it, if the cardholder notifies the credit card company within three months from the date a charge isn't authorized, the company must refund the amount of a minimum of three months for charged services. If the credit card company can prove charges were authorized, no refund will be issued.
Individuals and companies who violate the Tennessee telemarketing laws are subject to many different criminal and civil penalties, including those listed below.
Civil penalties for not maintaining a company Do Not Call list or blocking telemarketer number is $1,000 per violation. The TRA can order civil penalties up to $2,000 for Do Not Call violations; the money goes to the state public utilities account.
The attorney general of the county where the automated calls are made from or a group receiving the automated calls can seek a legal injunction to stop the calls.
Telemarketers can defend themselves against telephone solicitation violations by showing they established and implemented reasonable practices and procedures to prevent violations.
Note: State laws change frequently -- it's important to verify the state law(s) you're researching .
If you have questions about telemarketing fraud, you should contact an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney for help.
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