Tips on Receiving Funds from Telemarketers

This information is based on one person's experiences. Your success may vary.

Things to be aware of

  • Chances are you won't be able to recover anything if the only violation is the telemarketer's failure to provide an address or phone number; wait for the second call before asking for payment.
  • Consider settling for a reduced amount. You may get less money than you're entitled to, but could avoid having to actually sue to receive anything. Usually when there is a violation, the company knows it's in the wrong and is pretty sure it will lose in court. They want to avoid the legal costs and time involved, but mainly they want to avoid adverse publicity. So they're usually willing to settle out of court for a reduced sum. Getting any payment from a company is painful for them, and if enough people collect, telemarketing would become too expensive and the industry would disappear.
  • There is a small loophole in the law that states that if a company calls a second time, they can use as an excuse that it was an inadvertent mistake. In cases that do go to court, usually the judge admonishes the company to be more careful, but the plaintiff loses. However, if the same company calls a third time, then it's obvious that the second call wasn't an inadvertent mistake, and the plaintiff can usually collect for the second and third calls.

Violations to watch for

  • When you receive a written copy of a do-not-call policy, check to see what they require for a customer to be put on the do-not-call list. If it requires your address, that's a violation -- it's excessive information; they can only require a name and phone number.

Suggestions for contacting the telemarketing company

Your first step would be to write a formal business letter to the president of the company, stating that this letter is a formal claim for $XXX (state the amount you're claiming) for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.

  • Set forth all of the particulars of the calls, including dates, times, the name of the person/people who called, names of any supervisors you spoke to, the date you requested to be put on the do-not-call list, and anything else you feel is pertinent.
  • Tell them how you arrived at the amount you're claiming -- remember, $500 for each violation.
  • If you're willing to settle for a reduced amount, let them know that you're willing to negotiate.
  • Give them a reasonable amount of time to fork over the money (like 3 weeks).
  • Tell them if you haven't received the money by the deadline, that you'll report the violations to the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, your State Attorney General, and your local Office of Consumer Affairs; and that you will seek redress in Small Claims Court.
  • Send the letter Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested.
  • Be sure to ask for a written copy of the company's do-not-call policy in your letter. Failure to provide it can net you another $500.00.

You may be required to sign a release before you can receive the payment. Read it carefully and make sure you are willing to agree to its terms before you sign. Feel free to change anything you don't like. Make sure the release has an expiration date -- if you haven't received the $$$ by that date, then the release is void. If they don't agree to the changes, then you won't have a settlement; but you can still sue. Tell them that if they don't meet your terms, you'll feel free to publicize the incident in the media.

how to stop telemarketers - 47 USC §227 - 47 CFR §64.1200

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Last updated on April 3, 1999.