Rhode Island Telemarketing Fraud Laws

In general, telemarketing fraud occurs when false statements are intentionally made over the phone during a telephone solicitation in order scam or defraud the victim in some way. In Rhode Island, the Telephone Sales Solicitation Act places various requirements and restrictions on telephone solicitors in order to help deter telemarketing fraud within the state.

"Telephone solicitation" is the engagement of a telephone conversation for the purpose of encouraging a person to person to purchase personal property, investment opportunities, goods or services, or for the purpose of gathering information for sales solicitations. Telephone solicitors must register with before placing calls in, or into, Rhode Island, and must follow the requirements listed below.

General Disclosures

Within the first 30 seconds of placing a telephone solicitation call, the solicitor must identify themself by stating his or her real name, the company for whom the solicitation is being made, and the consumer goods or services being sold.

If a sale (or an agreement to purchase) is complete during a telephone solicitation, the solicitor must inform the purchaser of his or her cancellation rights, state the registration number issued by the department for both the seller and the solicitor, and provide the seller's street address.

All of these required general disclosures must be made in a clear and intelligible manner.

Use of Automated Voice Messages

Telephone solicitors may not use an automatic dialing-announcing device unless:

  • The subscriber has voluntarily requested, consented to, permitted, or authorized receipt of the message, or
  • The message immediately follows a live operator who obtains the subscriber's consent before the message is delivered

If the automated message is preceded by a live operator, the operator must disclose:

  • The name of the organization on whose behalf the message is being made
  • The purpose of the message
  • The identity of the kinds of goods or services the message is promoting, and
  • If applicable, the fact that the message intends to solicit payment or commitment of funds

Do Not Call Lists

Telemarketers are prohibited from making unsolicited phone calls to numbers listed on the "do-not-call list." Federal law requires every state to maintain a do-not-call-list. Telephone solicitors are prohibited from making unsolicited phone calls to any number listed on a do-not-call-list. Registering your phone number with the Do-Not-Call-List is a great way to help protect yourself from falling victim to telemarketing fraud.

Hours of Operation

Additionally, telephone solicitation calls in Rhode Island may only be made to a residential, mobile, or telephonic paging device number Monday through Friday (except on state or federal holidays) between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm, and Saturdays between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm. Placing telephone solicitations outside of the permitted hours is a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by a fine of up to $500 per violation.

Penalties

Code Section

Rhode Island Code section 5-61-5: Criminal Penalties for Violating the Telephone Solicitation Act

Penalties

Any person who willfully violates (or schemes in connection with someone else to violate) any provision of the Telephone Sales Solicitation Act, or who willfully engages in any act, practice, or course of business which operates as fraud or deceit upon any person in connection with a sale by any telephonic seller is punished as follows:
  • By a fine of up to $10,000 for each unlawful transaction, and/or
  • By imprisonment for up to one year

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information about Rhode Island's telemarketing fraud laws contact a local consumer protection attorney or criminal defense lawyer.

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