Massachusetts Telemarketing Fraud Laws

In Massachusetts, telemarketing fraud generally involves promising something of value over the telephone and not delivering it after payment has been made by the victim. Such charges can also involve obtaining credit card information by telephone and then making use of the victim’s credit card. The calls can come in the form of sweepstakes, credit repair schemes, charity scams or investment rip offs -- just to name a few. Senior citizens are particularly at risk for this type of crime. Fraudulent telemarketers use phony prizes, cheap products and high-pressure sales tactics to defraud consumers. It is estimated that telemarketing fraud robs consumers of more than $40 billion each year.

"Do Not Call Registry"

The Massachusetts "Do Not Call" Registry applies to telemarketing companies that operate in the Commonwealth, while the National Registry applies to any other telemarketing company operating nationally. Consumers should sign up for both lists to ensure that telemarketing calls stop. Cell phones may only be placed on the National Registry.

In many instances, victims will report telemarketing fraud to the federal government, but here is a general overview of the Massachusetts Telephone Solicitation Act and telemarketing fraud laws. See Federal Telemarketing Rules, Property Crimes, and White Collar Crimes for more information.

What is a "telephonic sales call?"

“Telephone solicitor,” is an individual, association, corporation, partnership, limited partnership, limited liability company or other business entity, or an affiliate, doing business in the commonwealth who makes or causes to be made a telephone sales call.

Enforcement Agencies Massachusetts Attorney General's Office and local district attorneys
Remedies

Civil penalties including fines, declaratory judgments, injunctions, individual damages, reasonable attorney's fees and class action lawsuits.

Hours Calls can only come between 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Do Not Call Registry

Massachusetts "Do Not Call" Registry

National "Do Not Call" Registry

Who Can Bring an Individual Lawsuit? The Attorney General, a county prosecutor, or individual consumer may bring a lawsuit.
What are the telemarketing rules?
  • Unsolicited sales calls may not be made to consumers who sign up on the Do Not Call Registry after the effective date of their registration;
  • Telemarketers can't use pre-recorded messages;
  • Telemarketers can't block their identity from the consumer;
  • Telemarketers must disclose, within the first minute of the sales call, identifying information, including the sales purpose of the call, the name of the telemarketer and the name of the ultimate seller, and an accurate and complete description of the goods or services being offered;
  • Telemarketers must disclose the following before any payment discussions:
    1) The total cost of the goods/services offered;
    2) Any limits on the purchase;
    3) The refund and return policy; and 4 )The material terms of any investment opportunity being offered, including the price, location and the non-guaranteed nature of the investment.
Are some calls exempt from the "Do Not Call Registry"?
  • Noncommercial polls or surveys, e.g. political polls;
  • Calls made by tax-exempt non-profit organizations, e.g. universities and charities;
  • Calls made to consumers with that consumer's express permission;
  • Calls made to consumers in response to that consumer's visit to that company's fixed commercial location;
  • Telephone sales calls made primarily in connection with an existing contract or debt;
  • Telephone sales calls to an existing customer.
Consumer Lawsuits

Any consumer who has received more than 1 unsolicited sales telephone call during a 12-month period from the same person or entity may bring an action in court to have any further calls stopped and to recover a financial awarard.

Federal Protections against Telemarketing Fraud

The FCC, FTC, and US Department of Justice enforce federal telemarketing laws including violations of the National "Do Not Call" Registry and deceptive business practices including:

Enforcement Agencies

If you feel you have been victimized by a telemarketing scam, here is some contact information that can help you:

Because telemarketing laws can sometimes get complicated, it may also be a good idea to consult an experienced consumer protection attorney in Massachusetts if you have questions about your specific situation.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.