It is against federal law for telemarketers to engage in deceptive or abusive actions when they call consumers, and when telemarketers do engage in illegal practices, actions may be brought by either the Nevada Attorney General or private consumers directly. A practice is considered to be abusive or deceptive when it is likely to result in substantial harm to consumers, and when it is not outweighed by potential benefits, nor is reasonably avoidable. A consumer may file an action with the help of a consumer rights attorney in Nevada directly, or he or she may file a complaint with the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, which may take action on its own.
Federal Law Prohibits Deceptive and Abusive Practices
The Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act (TCFAPA) was passed by Congress in 1994. The law gives the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the duty of enacting regulations to enforce the act. The regulation that implements the act defines prohibited deceptive and abusive practices used by telemarketers and how actions may be taken against individuals or entities that violate it.
Deceptive Telemarketing Practices
The regulation lists multiple acts that are prohibited by telemarketers as deceptive practices. Telemarketers must make truthful disclosures to consumers that comply with requirements under the applicable laws, including the Truth in Lending Act. They must also disclose their return and refund policies, the total purchase cost, restrictions or limitations, and all other relevant information. If the call involves a promotion or a prize, the telemarketer must disclose the odds of winning and that no purchase is required in order to enter. Telemarketers must disclose debt relief services, including when bona fide settlement offers will be made to each creditor, or when the consumer owns any funds that he or she is required to deposit, or when the consumer may withdraw from the company’s debt relief services.
Misrepresentations of goods and services are likewise prohibited. These include misrepresenting the total cost, any affiliation the caller may have with another organization, all material aspects of the product, service, limitations or restrictions, or claims that a person needs a particular service in order to get protection that the person already has under the law. Telemarketers may not charge consumers’ credit or debit cards without first getting their express oral authorization to do so, and the authorization must be recorded.
Abusive Telemarketing Practices
A consumer rights attorney in Nevada helps his or her client(s) who have been the victims of abusive telemarketing practices. Under the law, abusive telemarketing practices include the following:
- Threats, intimidation, or use of vulgar or obscene language
- Submitting billing without receiving the consent of consumers
- Not transmitting the telephone number of the telemarketer to caller ID
- Repeated phone calls and calls before 8 am and after 9 pm
- Calling people on the do not call registry or interfering with people’s efforts to get on the list
- Abandoning outbound calls
Telemarketers must make oral disclosures for all sales of goods, services, and charitable contributions, and if they collect payment without first making the disclosures and allowing the consumers to opt out, they may be liable under the law. There are a number of other abusive telemarketing practices that are also prohibited by the regulation. A consumer rights attorney in Nevada may advise his or her client(s) about whether or not telemarketers’ practices have likely violated the law.
Filing Actions Against Deceptive Or Abusive Telemarketing Companies
If a telemarketer’s actions were deceptive or abusive and resulted in harm, a consumer has the option of filing an action as an individual or making a complaint to the Attorney General so that the office can file an action. Before filing actions in court, individuals or the attorney general must first send written notice about the violating company to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Along with the notice, the consumer or the attorney general must also send copies of all court documents that will be filed in the case.
If a company is found to have violated the regulations, the FTC may impose a $16,000 fine against it for each violation. Attorney generals who bring actions on behalf of residents of their states may sue for monetary damages and ask for injunctions against the violating companies to prevent them from engaging in deceptive or abusive practices in the future. Private individuals who have lost more than $50,000 because of deceptive or abusive practices under the TCFAPA are allowed to sue within three years. People whose losses are under $50,000 may still sue under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, which provides a more robust ability to seek legal remedies for victims.
Deceptive and abusive practices by telemarketers may cause substantial financial harm to consumers. Consumer rights attorney Matthew Sharp in Nevada may pursue legal remedies on behalf of his or her client(s).