Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Wednesday, September 5, 2001

ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN CORNYN DISCUSSES CONSUMER SCAM PROTECTION

New State law designed to help protect Texans against telemarketing fraud

MIDLAND - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today met with Permian Basin senior citizens to discuss the ways they can shield themselves from consumer scams.

During his visit, Attorney General Cornyn spoke about a new State law that gives Texans additional protections against telemarketing fraud. The Texas Telemarketing Disclosure and Privacy Act (HB 472) takes effect next year.

"Senior citizens in Texas are the most popular targets of consumer fraud, including telemarketing fraud," Attorney General Cornyn said. "I want to ensure that all consumers and service providers are aware of the laws that target those who want to cheat or deceive the public."

Attorney General Cornyn offered several tips on how to recognize potential telemarketing scams, including:

  • An offer of free gifts that requires you to pay shipping and handling charges or other fees before delivery
  • "Get-rich-quick" schemes that promise high profits and no-risk investments in gold, oil, gas, real estate or gems
  • High-pressure sales tactics to get you to "act now" because the offer will not be available tomorrow
  • "Buy one, get one free" offers for vacations or other products
  • Charity solicitations for an organization named similarly to that of a well-known charity
  • Phony contests offering prizes in which you must provide your credit card or bank account number for "verification" purposes
  • Sales pitches that include a 900-number for further information; and
  • Foreign lotteries in which scam artists say they are selling you tickets as part of a pool of ticket purchasers

State lawmakers passed HB 472 during the recent 77th Texas Legislative Session. The bill contains several provisions to protect consumers from unwanted solicitations. Telemarketers who break the new law could face penalties of up to $3,000 per violation.

Highlights of the new law, to be effective next year, include:

  • The Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC), which regulates telecommunications, will establish a "no call" list that contains the telephone numbers of persons in Texas who have requested to be on the list
  • Texans will be able to include their names on the "no call" list via several channels, such as a toll-free number or the Internet
  • Telemarketers will be prohibited from making a call to a telephone number that has been on the "no call" list more than 60 days
  • Telemarketers will be required to provide information that is accessible by a caller identification service; and
  • The Office of the Attorney General may investigate alleged violations of the new law, along with the PUC and some State agencies

"The state and federal government are working to help stop telemarketing fraud. However, the best defense against deceptive telephone solicitation practices is an aware consumer," Attorney General Cornyn said. "Remember, they called you. When in doubt, say no and hang up the phone."

Seniors, or any Texans who believe they have been the victim of any type of consumer fraud, can file a complaint with Attorney General Cornyn's Consumer Protection Division (CPD). The toll-free hotline number is 1-800-621-0508; complaint forms are also available on the agency's web site at www.oag.state.tx.us. Consumer complaints may also be filed with the local district attorney's office or the Better Business Bureau.

When HB 472 takes effect in January, seniors and other consumers in Texas will be able to choose from a number of agencies with which to file complaints, depending on the nature of the telemarketer's business.

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