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Consumer Fraud

Telephone And Mail Solicitations

To most people, junk mail and telemarketer calls are merely a NUISANCE, but unscrupulous companies can use both the mail and the telephone to part innocent (and not merely gullible) people from their money. Applications for credit cards or personal loans promise easy credit, but the fine print promises exorbitant interest rates. Sweepstakes promising millions in winnings await the lucky recipient, who often feels compelled to send an order for several magazines along with the prize receipt. Charities use telemarketing and mass mailings to ask for donations; while some of those charities are established and legitimate, others are dubious. Many phony charities assume names that sound like better-known organizations in the hope of fooling consumers.

Every day, people are contacted by telephone and mail with phony offers. Despite warnings from consumer-advocacy groups, people continue to provide credit card numbers, bank information, and even Social Security numbers to those whom they do not know. The elderly are a common target, in part because once they find that they have been defrauded they refuse to report the crime because they are embarrassed. Groups such as the Federal Trade Commission, the National Consumers League (NCL), and Consumers Union provide information to the general public in an effort to curtail fraud.

In 2002, several states initiated "do-not-call" programs that allow people to store their telephone numbers in a centralized database that telemarketers are prohibited from calling. A telemarketer who calls a prohibited number faces stiff fines.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Constituency to CosignerConsumer Fraud - Identity Theft, Telephone And Mail Solicitations, Internet Fraud, Income Tax Fraud - Combating Fraud