Pennsylvania Telemarketing Fraud Laws

In Pennsylvania, telemarketing fraud 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. The number of telemarketing scams aimed at seniors has been on the rise, prompting warnings from the U.S. attorney.

A common scheme used by unscrupulous telemarketers include prize offers. You usually have to do something to get your "free" prize: attend a sales presentation, buy something, or give out a credit card number. The prizes are generally worthless or overpriced.

Signing up for the state and nationwide "Do Not Call Registry" will help cut down significantly on the telemarketing calls you receive at home. Most telemarketers must take your home phone number off of their call lists if you've signed up for the Registry.

In most instances, victims will report telemarketing fraud to the federal government, but here is a general overview of Pennsylvania's telemarketing laws. See Federal Telemarketing Rules, Property Crimes, and White Collar Crimes for more information.

Code Section

Pennsylvania Telemarketer Registration Act: 73 P.S. ยงยง2241-2249

Enforcement Agencies Office of Attorney General and local district attorneys
Remedies

Criminal and 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.-9 p.m.
Do Not Call Registry

Pennsylvania "Do Not Call List"

National "Do Not Call List"

Telemarketers must then remove every name on the Do Not Call list from their calling lists within 30 days of receiving the list. A violation of the law carries a civil penalty of up to $1,000 or $3,000 if the person contacted is age 60 or older.

Who Can Bring an Individual Lawsuit? The Attorney General, a county prosecutor, or individual consumer may bring a lawsuit.
What are the telemarketing rules?
  • Requires certain telemarketing businesses operating inside and outside Pennsylvania to register with the state.
  • All pre-recorded calls (made using automatic dialers) must identify the caller, including the caller's telephone number and address.
  • Telemarketers must tell you it's a sales call, the name of the seller and what they are selling before they make their pitch.
  • Before you pay, telemarketers must tell you the total cost of the goods and any restrictions on getting them or using them, or that a sale is final or non-refundable. In a prize promotion they must tell you the odds of winning, that no purchase or payment is necessary to win and any restrictions or conditions of receiving the prize.
  • Telemarketers must disclose all material information about the goods or services they are offering and terms of the sale. They are prohibited from lying about any terms of the offer.
  • Allows the Ohio Attorney General to enforce federal and state telemarketing laws.
  • Establishes criminal and civil penalties for violations of the law.
Do telephone solicitors/salespeople need to register with the state? Yes, solicitors must register with the state.
Definition of "telephone solicitor"

A person or business entity that uses a telephone as part of a plan, program or campaign to sell goods or services, or to solicit contributions for a charity when either of the following apply:

  • Telephone calls are made to or received from a consumer within Pennsylvania;
  • The business is located within Pennsylvania when telephone calls are made to or received from consumers, regardless of where the consumer is located.
Are some calls exempt from the Do Not Call registry?
  • Calls that you request
  • Calls made by businesses to existing customers or to consumers who have done business with the company in the past 12 months - for example: calls from banks with whom you have accounts or your credit card company
  • Debt collection calls
  • Calls from tax-exempt charitable or fraternal organizations
  • Calls from veterans organizations
  • Calls made on behalf of political groups or candidates

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:

Learn More About Your Legal Options with a Free Evaluation

Fraud in general is taken seriously in Pennsylvania and other states, including fraud committing over the telephone. But sometimes there's a fine line between what is considered fraud and what is fair game. If you have been charged with telemarketing fraud in Pennsylvania, you might consider getting a free case evaluation.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.