District of Columbia Telemarketing Fraud Laws

Phone calls from unknown phone numbers usually mean one thing: telemarketers. While most people find this type of marketing to be one of the most annoying ways to be sold a product, telemarketers believe that catching people when they least expect it can actually be the beginning of a successful marketing campaign. The District of Columbia's telemarketing fraud laws set stringent rules for telemarketers to follow so that consumers can feel comfortable when purchasing products from these telephone solicitors. This is a quick summary of the telemarketing fraud laws in Washington, D.C.

Penalties Associated for Telemarketing Fraud in the District of Columbia

The following table outlines the specifics of District of Columbia telemarketing fraud laws.

Code Sections

District of Columbia Official Code §22-3226: Telephone Fraud

What's Prohibited?

Under D.C. telemarketing fraud laws, a telephone solicitor commits the offense when he or she:

  • Fails to obtain or maintain a valid certificate of registration;
  • Obtains a certificate of registration through any false pretense;
  • Knowingly misrepresents the total cost of the goods or services that are the subject of the telephone solicitation;
  • Induces a consumer to purchase goods or services by means of a false pretense, representation or promise;
  • Charges a consumer's checking or savings account without the consumer's express written authorization; or
  • Uses the services of any professional delivery courier to obtain immediate receipt and/or possession of a consumer's payment.

Criminal Penalties

A conviction on a telemarketing fraud charge is criminally punishable as follows:

Transactions Valued at $20,000 or more: Subject to a fine of up to $10,000, prison for up to 4 years, or both.

Transactions Valued at less than $20,000 but more than $5,000: Subject to a fine of up to $5,000, prison for up to 3 years, or both.

Transactions Valued at less than $5,000: Subject to a fine of up to $500, prison for up to 6 months, or both.

Civil Penalties

Additionally, the following civil penalties also may be imposed:

  • A fine of up to $1,000 per violation.
  • Revocation or suspension of a license if the seller or telephone solicitor fails to comply with the registration requirements.
  • Treble damages against any telephone solicitor who knowingly targets elderly persons or persons with disabilities

Registration

In order for any person to transact any business as a telephone solicitor, he or she must first obtain a certificate of registration from the Mayor. The application for certificate of registration must be made at least 60 business days prior to the telemarketing campaign. Certificates of registration are valid for one year.

If you have been accused of violating telemarketing fraud laws and would like further legal assistance, you can contact a District of Columbia criminal defense lawyer through FindLaw. Visit FindLaw's sections on telemarketing fraud and other fraud and financial crimes for more articles and information on this topic.

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