Telephone marketing has been around for decades. And for just as long, it has been an annoyance to people who prefer not to engage in any transactions over the phone. Now that cellphones are more prevalent than home phones and every call comes with caller ID, the relationship between telemarketers and possible clients is perhaps more divisive than ever, as telemarketers engage in some questionable practices to conduct business.
It is important to understand that while they may be annoying, sales calls are not necessarily illegal, even if they are unsolicited. However, if a telemarketer violates federal telemarketing rules, they can face serious criminal charges like wire fraud. Below are some of the basic rules telemarketers must follow; otherwise, they could wind up convicted of a federal offense.
1. A caller must identify himself or herself as well as his or her business.
2. Calls must not be made between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.
3. Telemarketers must not call people who have their number on the National Do Not Call Registry (though there are exceptions).
4. Information about prizes or products must be accurate and truthful.
5. Callers must provide information regarding the odds of winning when promoting a prize and callers cannot require payment to receive the prize.
6. Callers must not intentionally misrepresent themselves or their services.
Following these rules can help legitimate telemarketers avoid criminal charges and harsh penalties.
That being said, there are many things telemarketers do that people think is illegal, but it may not be. For instance, generally speaking, using pre-recorded messages is not unlawful; nor is contacting someone on the Do Not Call Registry if he or she has done business with the caller or entity before.
There are people who engage in unlawful conduct when it comes to telemarketing, and the consequences these people face if convicted can be severe. However, not every telemarketer is a scammer and not every sales call is a pyramid scheme.
If you are accused of wire fraud stemming from telemarketing, you can consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. These are serious charges that have serious consequences, and defending yourself against them will be critical.