New FTC rules aimed at telemarketing sales
Scammers play a large role in the marketplace. However, they are often able to remain anonymous by requesting payment via avenues that are difficult to trace. However, a recent amendment to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules now makes it easier for consumers and business owners to identify shady telemarketing offers.
In an effort to inform the public about this important rule change, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) outlines the impact it will have and offers some tips on common phone scams.
The FTC recently amended the Telemarketing Sales Rule so that it’s now illegal for telemarketers to ask for payment by cash-to-cash money transfers - such as those from MoneyGram and Western Union - or PINs from cash reload cards like MoneyPak and Vanilla Reload. This amendment also applies to unsigned checks called “remotely created payment orders,” which are never seen or signed and created when telemarketers are given bank account information. These changes went into effect on June 13, 2016.
“The amended Telemarketing Sales Rule is a boon to consumers and business owners,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota. “Now, if people are asked to make payment via these methods over the phone, they’ll know they’re dealing with someone who is breaking the law - most likely a scammer.”
This amendment aside, consumers are offered many other protections under the Telemarketing Sales Rule, including:
o Calling times are restricted to the hours between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
o Telemarketers must promptly tell you the identity of the seller or charitable organization and that the call is a sales call or a charitable solicitation.
o Telemarketers must disclose all material information about the goods or services they are offering and the terms of the sale. They are prohibited from lying about any terms of their offer.
People can put their telephone numbers - including their cellphone number -on the National Do Not Call Registry by visiting donotcall.gov or by calling 888-382-1222. This will stop most telemarketing calls, but not all.
In the experience of BBB, some common phone scams beyond suspect telemarketing schemes include:
o The IRS/Law enforcement scam. Con artists demanding immediate payment pretend to be calling about unpaid taxes or outstanding warrants. Neither the IRS nor authorities make calls like this.
o Sweepstakes scams. People are told they’ve won large cash prizes and/or a new car, but need to pay taxes, fees or insurance to collect their winnings. But the calls are fraudulent and the prizes aren’t real.
o The Tech Support scheme. ‘Helpful technicians,’ sometimes claiming to work for Microsoft, call consumers and business owners and say something is wrong with their computer and they can help. However, all they’re seeking is credit card information. This scam is also perpetrated via pop-up messages that appear on computer screens.
o The grandparent scam. Scammers call seniors and pretend to be a loved one - often a grandchild - outside the country and in distress. This scheme plays on emotion and has proven very effective.
A good way to identify a fraudulent telemarketer or phone scam is if the caller is requesting any of the payment methods or bank account access outlined above. If you receive such suspect phone calls, you should hang up and report them at ftc.gov and also at BBB Scam Tracker.