Michigan Telemarketing Fraud

In Michigan, a telemarketing call is an unsolicited phone call made by a business to try and sell you a product or service, or an extension of credit.

Sometimes telemarketing fraud can occur in this context. That means any type of fraudulent scheme in which a criminal uses a phone to try and scam victims to illegally take their money.

Telemarketing fraud can come in the form of sweepstakes or prize calls, credit repair schemes, or investment rip offs -- just to name a few. The elderly are particularly at risk for this type of crime. The number of telemarketing scams aimed at seniors has been on the rise, prompting warnings from the U.S. Attorney.

One of these so-called “grandparent scams” has been most rampant in Michigan, according to a consumer protection expert in that state.

In most instances, victims will report telemarketing fraud to the federal government, but here is a general overview of Michigan state telemarketing laws.

The following table highlights the main provisions of the Michigan Home Solicitation Sales Act and the Consumer Protection Act. See Federal Telemarketing Rules, Property Crimes, and White Collar Crimes for more information.

Code Section Michigan Home Solicitation Sales Act (PDF), MCL 445.903, Michigan Consumer Protection Act
Enforcement Agencies Michigan Attorney General Consumer Protection Division
Remedies

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

Persons who suffer loss as a result of a violation of the law may bring a private lawsuit to recover actual damages or $250.00, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney fees.

Violators are also subject to penalties under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, because a violation of the Home Solicitation Sales Act also constitutes a violation of the Consumer Protection Act.

Additionally, certain violations are punishable as a misdemeanor, or by imprisonment for not more than six months or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both. (This penalty applies to commission of acts that are defined as being unfair or deceptive by the act, such as certain misrepresentations by telephone solicitors. It does not apply to violations of the do-not-call provisions).

Hours Calls can only come between 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Do Not Call Registry Consumers can register for the National "Do Not Call List."
Who Can Bring an Individual Lawsuit? The Attorney General, a county prosecutor, or individual consumer may bring a lawsuit under the Consumer Protection Act. Any person can bring a lawsuit for declaratory or injunctive relief. Only a person who suffers an actual loss can sue for civil damages or join a class action lawsuit.
What Does the Law Prohibit?

1. Misrepresenting or fail to clearly disclose:

  • the total purchase price of the product being sold;
  • any restrictions or conditions on purchase;
  • any material term or condition regarding refund, cancellation, or exchange policies;
  • any material condition relating to a prize offering;
  • any material aspect of an investment opportunity being offered;
  • the quantity, any material aspect of the quantity, or characteristics of the product being sold;

2. Making false or misleading statement to induce payment for goods or services;

3. Requesting payment or submitting a credit card charge before receiving express verifiable authorization showing that the consumer has agreed to purchase;

4. Calling a consumer who has requested that he or she not receive calls from the seller on whose behalf the call is made;

5. Intentionally blocking or interfering with the caller ID function on a consumer's phone;

6. Making a call that consists in whole or in part of a recorded message;

7. Making a telephone solicitation to a telephone subscriber whose number is on the do-not-call list.

Federal Protections against Telemarketing Fraud

The FCC, FTC, and U.S. 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 be a good idea to consult an experienced consumer protection lawyer in Michigan if you have questions about your specific situation.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.