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Texas Fraud Laws: Telemarketing Fraud

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Texas Fraud Laws: Telemarketing Fraud

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Telemarketing can be an effective way for companies to advertise their products and services to customers. However, it can also be used for nefarious reasons that catch unsuspecting victims off-guard. 

If you plan to use telemarketing as a means of advertising your business or organization and reaching your customers, it is important that you steer clear of any practice that can be deemed as fraudulent. You also need to know what steps to take if you are ever arrested for and charged with telemarketing fraud.

 What is Telemarketing Fraud? 

Telemarketing fraud is a serious crime that often revolves around stealing a person’s identity and his or her credit card or banking information. This crime can be sophisticated and catch even the most discerning of people off guard. It results in millions of dollars in damages each year.

It is labeled as telemarketing fraud because it employs telephone communications to take advantage of people. Victims typically receive unsolicited phone calls from the fraudster. They are enticed into giving over personal information, such as their Social Security numbers, credit card details and banking information, to the person committing the crime.

Fraudsters who are successful in stealing people’s identities and personal financial information steal millions of dollars from victims each year. Once they succeed in convincing victims to hand over such details, they use this information to make purchases, take out loans and open up new credit card accounts in their victims’ names. The victims may find themselves in serious debt shortly after they are victimized through a telemarketing fraud scheme.

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Examples of Telemarketing Fraud

Telemarketing fraud can take a number of forms today. Because of how prevalent that it is across the country, it is vital that people know how to recognize it if they receive a suspicious, unsolicited phone call.

One of the most common examples of telemarketing fraud involves what is known as the Nigerian prince scheme. It involves a person being asked to wire money to a Nigerian prince who is stranded at an airport and has no cash to buy an airline ticket. In exchange for sending money to this individual, the victim is promised a large portion of the prince’s fortune.

Victims who fall for this scheme typically have their credit card or bank account details stolen from them. Their accounts are emptied, and they may find themselves fighting fraudulent entries on their credit reports after accounts and loans are taken out in their names.

Another common telemarketing fraud scheme involves a caller posing as a law enforcement or tax collection official. The caller tells the targeted victim that he or she will be arrested for offenses like not answering a jury duty summons, failing to pay a tax bill or not filing a tax return.

The victim is then told that the warrant for his or her arrest can be canceled if he or she pays a fine over the telephone. During the call, the victim may be asked for his or her Social Security number, credit card number, bank routing and account numbers and other personal details that can be used to steal his or her identity.

Regardless of what form that telemarketing fraud takes, the overall theme of this crime revolve around stealing enough details from a victim that allow the fraudster to take financial advantage of him or her. The schemes are becoming more sophisticated and easily catch people off guard. This crime claims millions of victims each year. 

However, people can take steps to avoid becoming victims. These common sense measures can protect their personal financial information and prevent their identities and money from being stolen.

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Steps to Prevent Telemarketing Fraud

Millions of people receive suspicious telemarketing phone calls each day. If you receive an unsolicited phone call in which the caller asks you for personal details, you can take immediate and effective steps to prevent becoming a victim of telemarketing fraud.

To start, you should never give out personal identity information over the phone, even if the caller says he or she is from your bank, credit card company or a local law enforcement agency. Reputable businesses and organizations will not ask for such details over the phone. If they require any kind of financial action from you, they typically will notify you by certified letter or regular mail and ask you to call or visit them in person to resolve the matter.

With that, you should never provide any unsolicited telemarketer with details like your:

  • Social Security number
  • Bank routing number
  • Bank account number
  • Credit or debit card numbers
  • Passwords or user names to online accounts

You should also never hand over the answers to security questions that you use to safeguard your online accounts.

Further, you may be able to reduce the chances of receiving fraudulent telemarketing phone calls by placing your phone number on the National Do-Not Call Registry. This registry makes it illegal for telemarketers to contact numbers on it. Your phone number may receive a significantly lower number of fraudulent telemarketing calls once you place it on this list.

Finally, you can rely on your caller identification on your phone and avoid answering any phone calls from numbers that you do not recognize. Many telemarketing fraudsters will not leave voicemail messages. If the caller does not leave a message or call from a number of a bank or organization that you do business with, you should avoid answering the call and let it go to voicemail.

How Telemarketing Fraud is Punished

Each state has its own set of laws regarding the prosecution and punishment of telemarketing fraud. The severity of punishments depend on the extent of damages that victims sustained. It can also be increased if the victims were especially vulnerable, such as being elderly and over the age of 65 when the crime occurred. 

Depending on what kind of fraud took place, people who are found guilty of telemarketing fraud can be heavily fined and have to make restitution to their victims. They may be compelled to pay back all of the money that they stole, along with punitive damages to compensate their victims for mental and emotional suffering. Fraudsters also can be sentenced to lengthy jail or prison sentences if they are found guilty of this crime.

Defenses for Telemarketing Fraud

If you are charged with telemarketing fraud, you have the right to defend yourself in court. Your first move can be to hire an experienced defense attorney who can show that you did not commit fraud or intend to victimize anyone through your organization’s telemarketing campaigns. With effective legal counsel, you may avoid being sentenced to prison or jail and having to pay back expensive civil fines and restitution. 

Telemarketing fraud is a serious crime that victimizes millions of people each year. It claims millions of dollars in damages and can leave people struggling to reclaim their personal identities and finances.

You can defend yourself in court if you are arrested for and charged with this grave offense, however. You may avoid being convicted of it and facing severe penalties like jail or prison time and costly fines by hiring an experienced telemarketing fraud lawyer to represent you.

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