Telemarketing FAQ's : More Topics & FAQs : Consumer Assistance Program : University of Vermont

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Telemarketing FAQs

Can't learn enough about telemarketing and telephone fraud?  See below for answers to common questions! 

Telemarketing Fraud

How people are defrauded

Fraudulent telemarketers use a variety of approaches to fleece their victims. Here are some typical "pitches": Prize scams: "You are eligible to win a major prize!" "You have won the lottery!" The truth: Your prize will be the cheep jewelry or the $1.00 vacation certificate, not the car or cash- in exchange for paying hundreds of dollars for a water filter, vitamins, or other products. Or you'll pay "taxes" or other charges and never see any lottery winnings. Credit repair/loans: "We can repair your credit and get you a loan!" The truth: Many companies promise, for an advanced fee, to repair credit or lend money, and then fail to achieve the promised results. Recovery rooms: "We can recover the money you lost from the last telemarketer!" The truth: The "recovery room" may scam you a second time.

It is against the law

Telemarketers may not:
  • Require you to pay any money or buy anything to enter a sweepstakes or contest. 
  • Ask for an advanced payment to repair your credit, get a loan, or recover money lost to another telemarketer. 
  • Take money from your bank account without your written consent. 
  • Use a courier service to pick up payment from you, unless the goods you are buying are delivered at the same time.

Tips to avoid becoming a victim of telemarketing fraud:

  • Never buy at the time of the sales pitch. Legitimate businesses will never pressure you to make a quick decision.
  • Never give your credit card or bank account information over the phone unless you made the call and know the business is legitimate.
  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

If you have been scammed, you still have rights!

These rights include:
  • The right to cancel your purchase made over the phone within three business days of the call. The seller must give you written and verbal notice of this right, and your three days do not begin to run until these disclosures are made.
  • The right to receive a "chargeback" or credit on your credit card of you were not properly notified of your right to cancel. This right continues for three years from date of sale.
For more information on your rights, or to file a complaint against a fraudulent telemarketer, contact us.

Telemarketing calls

Some telemarketing calls are from legitimate businesses or organizations.  You can decide whether or not you wish to receive calls from legitimate telemarketers.  

How do I stop unwanted calls from telemarketers?

Vermonters who do not want to be called by telemarketers can sign up with the Federal Trade Commission’s registry online at www.donotcall.gov, or by calling toll-free 1-888-382-1222 from the number you wish to register (TTY 1-866-290-4236).

Are all telemarketing calls prohibited?

Certain calls are not covered by the federal registration law, including calls from political organizations, charities, telephone surveyors, and companies from which you have bought something or received a delivery in the past 18 months. If you do not want to get calls from companies that fall into any of these groups, tell the company or charity to put your phone number on their own “Do Not Call” list. Every company and charity is obliged to keep such a list.

What can I do if I continue to get unwanted calls?

Telemarketing calls made to a number which has been listed on the federal registry for three months, or which are on a company’s “Do Not Call” list, violate Vermont law. If you get a call from a telemarketer that violates Vermont law, you have the right to sue the telemarketer for actual damages or $500 for a first violation ($1,000 for each subsequent violation), whichever is greater.

Is unwanted telemarketing a crime?

Yes. Vermont law also imposes criminal penalties on telemarketers who call a Vermont telephone number without having first registered with the Vermont Secretary of State, unless the company is a federally-regulated financial institution (e.g. a federal bank), or is already regulated by, or registered or licensed with, one of the following Vermont governmental agencies: Secretary of State, Public Service Board, Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration, or Department of Taxes.

Charitable solicitation calls

Charitable solicitation calls are not covered by the Do Not Call registry.  To learn more about charitable soliciations, visit our page on charities.

Debt collection calls

Debt collection calls are also not subject to the Do Not Call requirements.  However, you still have rights as to when, how often and where a debt collector may contact you.  For more information on debt collection rights, visit our page on debt collection.

Last modified April 06 2017 01:56 PM

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