FTC improves telemarketing rules to further protect consumers

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By | October 1, 2016

Unwanted marketing calls? You are not alone. Better Business Bureau regularly receives calls from consumers complaining about telemarketing calls and scams. {{more}}The Federal Trade Commission has recently improved telemarketing rules to further protect consumers by outlawing the use of payment methods that are nearly impossible to trace, leaving consumers vulnerable. Final amendments to the FTC Telemarketing Sales Rule include a change that will help protect consumers from fraud by prohibiting four discrete types of payment methods favored by con artists and scammers. Con artists like payments that are tough to trace and hard for people to reverse. The FTC’s new telemarketing rules ban payment methods that scammers like, but honest telemarketers don’t use.The TSR changes will stop telemarketers from dipping directly into consumer bank accounts by using certain kinds of checks and “payment orders” that have been “remotely created” by the telemarketer or seller. These two payment mechanisms make it easy for unscrupulous telemarketers to debit bank accounts without consumers’ permission and can make it difficult to reverse the transactions with consumers’ banks. In addition, the amendments will bar telemarketers from receiving payments through traditional “cash-to-cash” money transfers provided by companies like MoneyGram, Western Union, and RIA. Scammers rely on cash transfers as a quick, anonymous, and irretrievable method to extract money from consumer victims. Once the money is sent and retrieved by the telemarketer, the money is gone. The TSR changes also will prohibit telemarketers from accepting as payment “cash reload” mechanisms such as MoneyPak, Vanilla Reload, or Reloadit packs used to add funds to existing prepaid cards. Scammer’s use the cash reload mechanism to apply the funds to their own prepaid debit cards and disappear with the money.These amendments address changes in the financial marketplace to ensure consumers remain protected by the TSR’s antifraud provisions, but are narrowly tailored to allow for innovations with respect to other payment methods that are used by legitimate companies.Better Business Bureau warns there are red flags to for telemarketing scams. If you receive a call with the following offers or claims, say “no, thank you” and hang up quickly: • You’ve been specially selected for this offer.• You’ll get a free bonus if you buy our product.• You’ve won one of five valuable prizes.• You’ve won big money in a foreign lottery.• This investment is low risk and provides a higher return than you can get anywhere else. • You have to make up your mind right away.• You don’t need to check our company with anyone.• We’ll just put the shipping and handling charges on your credit card.If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it’s a robocall. Recorded messages that are trying to sell you something are generally illegal unless you have given the company written permission to call you. Just hang up. Don’t press a number to speak to a live operator or any other key to take your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls. Report your experience to ftc.gov/complaint or call 382-1222.Please contact Better Business Bureau at bbb.org or 691-1533 for information on businesses throughout North America.