Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Schmidt asks FTC to tighten rules against telemarketing scams

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ---- Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt yesterday asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to make it harder for scammers to collect money from telemarketing victims.

Schmidt and a bipartisan group of 37 other state attorneys general submitted comments asking the FTC to crack down on telemarketing scams by strengthening the federal Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR).  The TSR is the main federal regulation that sets nationwide rules for telemarketers.

“Protecting Kansas consumers from scams, telemarketing fraud and other deceptive practices is a priority for our office,” Schmidt said.  "Whenever possible, we work closely with federal authorities since the vast majority of telemarketing scams targeting Kansans originate outside the state and many originate offshore."

In their comments, Schmidt and the other attorneys general say that changes in the marketplace and the continued prevalence of specific types of fraud and abuse require a tougher federal rule.  A principal focus of the request is to combat common scams, such as the "grandparent scam," that target senior citizens and try to collect money through wire transfers and other types of instant payment methods commonly used in telemarketing fraud.  In addition to asking the FTC to tighten its rules to restrict certain payment methods commonly used by scammers, the attorneys general also address the use of pre-acquired account information, the use of negative option features, and requiring telemarketers to create and maintain call records.

“The 'grandparent scam' and many others that target senior citizens and vulnerable Kansans continue to be a top source of consumer complaints filed with our office," Schmidt said.  "We continue to vigorously enforce Kansas law, and changes such as these we are recommending would improve our ability to protect Kansas consumers when they are targeted by scammers from out of state or even overseas. Of course, consumers should not give out bank account information when called by a telemarketer and never should agree to wire money to a telemarketer for any purpose."

Kansans with concerns about questionable sales or marketing practices can contact the Kansas Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-432-2310 or visit www.InYourCornerKansas.org  for more information.