Washington Telemarketing Fraud Law

Every year, illegal telemarketing fraud schemes rob consumers of their hard-earned money. In Washington, 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. 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.

What is a "Commercial Telephone Solicitation Call?"

"Telephone solicitation call" means any telephone call made to any person's residence in Washington, or to any wireless telephone with a Washington area code, for the purpose of offering or advertising any property, goods or services for sale, lease, license or investment, including offering or advertising an extension of credit.

The "Do Not Call Registry"

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

What is a commercial telephone solicitor?

"Commercial telephone solicitor" is any person who engages in commercial telephone solicitation, including service bureaus, i.e. a commercial telephone solicitor who contracts with any person to provide commercial telephone solicitation services

Enforcement Agencies Washington State Office of the Attorney General and local district attorneys
Remedies

Civil penalties including fines of $500-$2000 per violation, 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

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?
  • Prohibits telemarketers from making sales calls to Washington residents who have placed their
    residential and/or mobile phone numbers on the national “Do Not Call” registry;
  • Prohibits telemarketers from calling Washington residents between the hours of 9 p.m. and
    8 a.m.
  • Bars telemarketers from intentionally blocking caller identification;
  • Within the first minute of the call requires telemarketers to disclose the name of person making the call as well as the name of the telemarketing company, the name of person or company the telemarketer is calling on behalf of and the purpose of the call.
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:

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

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.