All types of companies utilize telemarketing methods in an effort to sell products or advertise their services to the general public. For most people, receiving a telemarketing call is simply an annoyance and often consumers won’t take the time to file a formal complaint. However, if the company is found to be in violation of State or federal laws and complaints are filed, then criminal penalties could follow.
In the end, a harmless phone call can turn into a criminal action that could affect an individual and their family for decades. A conviction for telemarketing fraud could result in serious charges carrying a sentence of time in jail or prison and expensive out-of-pocket fines. If you or someone you know has been accused of telemarketing fraud, it’s imperative you seek legal representation as soon as possible.
Texas Telemarketing Fraud Attorney | San Antonio, TX
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and State authorities have begun cracking down on companies who use unlawful telemarketing tactics. Individuals and companies found guilty of telemarketing fraud could face years in jail or prison and expensive conviction fines. That is why we highly encourage you to contact Goldstein & Orr if you’re under investigation for telemarketing fraud. Our experienced Texas fraud defense lawyers understand what it takes to take on this type of case at both the federal and State level. We can assess the situation and immediately begin building a defense designed to protect your rights and freedom.
Call Goldstein & Orr today at (210) 226-1463 to set up your first consultation or simply submit an online contact form. Goldstein & Orr has offices in San Antonio, but we accept clients throughout the greater Texas area including Bexar County, Travis County, Austin County, Sutton County, Reeves County, Kerr County, Kendall County, Hudspeth County, Nueces County, and Webb County, Texas.
- Definition of Telemarketing Fraud
- Common Telemarketing Schemes
- Federal Telemarketing Fraud Laws
- Telemarketing Fraud Laws in Texas
- Additional Resources
Telemarketing Fraud Definition
Utilizing deceit, trickery, deception or any other scheme to defraud to obtain money, goods, or services from an unsuspecting victim through a telemarketing call is a crime. The offense is commonly referred to as telemarketing fraud, and both State authorities and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigate these matters after receiving criminal complaints. Usually, telemarketing fraud schemes will involve making false promises or using misleading statements in order to secure the caller’s valuables including their bank information, social security, etc.
Generally, telemarketing companies who engage in these deceptive practices target vulnerable individuals especially the elderly. Since the issue is so common, it’s no surprise governmental authorities are on high alert for companies and individuals participating in these acts. Violation of telemarketing regulations could result in criminal charges, meaning time in jail or prison and an expensive conviction fines.
Common Telemarketing Fraud Schemes
Telemarketing is a common form of advertising, so all sorts of industries engage in it. However, while telemarketing schemes can appear anywhere, most telemarketing schemes involve the following “offers” or “opportunities.”
- Sweepstakes, prizes, or raffles
- Offers for vacations (especially cruises)
- Credit card offers
- Timeshare rental offers
- Investment opportunities
- Charitable donations
- Donations to campaigns for public office
- Vitamin, health, and nutritional supplements
Telemarketing fraud appears in many forms. Listed below are some common schemes telemarketers may use that are considered unlawful.
- Advance Fee Scams – Individual poses as a telemarketer and tells the caller they are entitled to some form of compensation. The individual will then inform the alleged victim they must spend an “advance fee” in order to cover the “administrative cots” of the payment. Once the person sends over the cash, the telemarketer will collect the money and then cut contact with the victim.
- Pyramid Schemes – The telemarketer will intentionally overpromise the return on an investment they are offering to the alleged victim. Often, these types of cases involve selling some sort of product way over market price. The telemarketer may claim that most sellers shilling the product face tremendous ROI, but in reality, the telemarketer knows that few who invest in the company make a profit.
- Phishing Scheme – In some cases, an individual may pose as a telemarketer in order to obtain personal and identifying information from a person. Some of this information may include bank account information, Social Security, Tax IDs, etc.
Federal Telemarketing Fraud Laws
The first piece of legislation addressing telemarketers was passed in 1991 with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). However, many things have changed since TCPA passed and now telemarketers have begun using robocalling services in order to further their schemes. Due to this fact, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is now focusing its efforts on cracking down those engaging in telemarketing schemes.
Telemarketing or email marketing under federal law means any type of campaign, promotion, or program designed to induce the alleged victim to purchase goods or services, participate in a contest, commit to a loan, invest in a financial product, participate in a business opportunity, or participate in a fraudulent medical study.
Individuals convicted of any of the following, or conspiracy to commit such an offense in connection with the conduct of telemarketing or email marketing will face criminal penalties.
- Identity theft
- Fraud in relation to connection with access devices
- Frauds and swindles
- Uses a fictitious name or address
- Wire fraud
- Bank fraud
- Health care fraud
- Social Security fraud
The consequences upon conviction include up to 5 years in prison in addition to any term of imprisonment imposed by the court. Certain factors could enhance the prison sentence for telemarketing fraud including:
- Victimizing 10 or more people over the age of 55; or
- Targeted persons over the age of 55
If the court discovers any of the above are true, then the defendant may face a prison term of up to 10 years in addition to any term imposed by the court.
Telemarketing Fraud Laws in Texas
The laws addressing telemarketing fraud can be found under Section 304.001 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code. The State of Texas defines a telemarketing call as any phone call in which the call recipient is told they may receive money, they can obtain credit, or they can purchase an item or service over the phone. According to Texas law, telemarketers who call those on a “Do Not Call” may face criminal penalties as a result.
The following acts are prohibited under Texas law:
- Obscuring caller ID information intentionally
- Calling a person who is already on a “Do Not Call” list for more than 60 days after they have already registered themselves on the list
- Sending faxes to recipients more than 24 hours after they were instructed to not contact an individual
Telemarketing fraud is generally investigated by the Texas state commission after they receive one or more complaints. During their investigation, if authorities discover instances of fraud, then the telemarketer or company could face criminal penalties. Under Texas law, a person or entity found guilty of telemarketing fraud will eb fined $1,000 for each violation. As you can see, persistent telemarketing schemes can eventually lead to serious criminal fines.
Telemarketing Fraud | FBI – Visit the official website for the Federal Bureau of Investigations to learn more about telemarketing fraud, signs of telemarketing fraud, tips on how to avoid it, and other valuable information.
FCC Push to Combat Robocalls – Visit the official website for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to learn more about their efforts to combat unlawful robocalls and malicious caller ID spoofing. Access the site to learn their plan in actions, penalties for engaging in these telemarketing tactics, consumer tips, and more.
Telemarketing Fraud Defense Lawyer, San Antonio TX
Contact Goldstein & Orr if you’re under investigation or have been arrested for telemarketing fraud by federal or State authorities. With decades of experience, an array of skills, and extensive network—our legal team is more than prepared to take on your case. We can begin assessing the facts of the case and start building a defense for you then and there.
Call Goldstein & Orr today at (210) 226-1463 to set up your first consultation or simply submit an online contact form.