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Unwanted Telemarketing Calls
Once you get on a telemarketer’s call list, you can expect to get multiple calls from a wide range of telemarketing firms for an indefinite period.
Computerized Call Offers and Facsimile Transmissions - Unsolicited telemarketing calls placed by computer or delivering a recorded message are illegal under Georgia law. The recipient may consent to receive such a call only if a live operator introduces the call and announces that a recorded message will follow. Telemarketers are also prohibited under Georgia and federal law from transmitting facsimile messages without the recipient’s consent.
The Georgia No Call List
In 1998, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation allowing consumers to avoid calls from telephone solicitors by placing their home telephone numbers on the Georgia No Call List. Telephone solicitors are prohibited from calling any residential number on the list, which is maintained by the Public Service Commission. Registration on the Georgia No Call List, however, does not limit calls from businesses with which you have a prior or existing relationship, recognized charitable or religious organizations or political pollsters or candidates for public office.
For a $5.00 registration fee, a residential telephone number can be placed on the Georgia No Call List for a period of two (2) years. This registration fee must be paid for each residential telephone number that is included on the list. By law, business numbers may not be included on the list.
To register for the Georgia No Call List, call 1-877-GANOCALL or visit the website at www.ganocall.com
Mail Preference Service
Consumers can also inform the Mail Preference Service of their desire not to receive any unsolicited mailings. Reputable companies adhere to the consumer’s wish not to be contacted. To be placed on the Mail Preference Service, please submit your name and address to Direct Marketing Association, Mail Preference Service, P. O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008.
Charitable organizations that are not religious in nature and those paid to solicit charitable contributions must register with the Secretary of State in order to solicit contributions in Georgia.
If you are called, be sure to ask the caller for the following information:
The name of the charitable organization
What type of charitable work is being done
How your money would be spent
The address and telephone number of the organization and whether it is registered with the Secretary of State’s office
You may call the Secretary of State's office at 404.656.3920 or check their website at www.sos.state.ga.us to verify that the charity or paid solicitor is registered to operate in Georgia.
It is illegal for a caller to send someone to your home to pick up a charitable monetary contribution. If this occurs, report the incident immediately to the Secretary of State's office at 404.656.3920.
To screen unfamiliar companies for reports of fraudulent activity, call the following groups:
National Fraud Information Center1
Georgia Better Business Bureau offices
Check Your Local Telephone Listings
Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs
- or -
1.800.869.1123 toll free in Georgia, outside the Atlanta dialing area
Securities Firms and Investment Advisors
The Secretary of State regulates issuers of securities, securities firms, securities salespersons and investment advisors doing business in Georgia. Securities are stocks and bonds, promissory notes, limited partnerships and other investment transactions that are more complex. Nearly all security offerings, securities salespeople and investment advisors who manage less than $25 million in investments must be registered with the Secretary of State.
If someone selling securities contacts you, remember:
You have the right to receive information about the salesperson, his or her firm and the investment itself.
Salespersons must confirm whether they or their employer are registered with the Secretary of State.
Many securities sold over the telephone are for poorly capitalized companies, for which there has been no previous public sale of stock. Such investments are generally much riskier than investing in established companies with long-standing operating histories.
Before sending any money to the salesperson, you should read and understand a prospectus, which contains key information about the issuer.
For any investment, be wary of a sales pitch where the salesperson tells you "inside information," makes an offer solely on a "one-time" basis, or promises that the investment will yield a large return.
General Telemarketing Solicitations
The Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) is responsible for combating fraudulent telemarketing activities involving a pattern of unfair or deceptive acts in the consumer marketplace. Among those telemarketing activities that OCA investigates are: prize offers, travel package offers, recovery scams, telephone service sales and credit-related scams.
If a telemarketer solicits you, the following advice is important:
Do not buy from an unfamiliar business on the phone or make an "on-the-spot" purchase. Legitimate businesses are willing to provide you with information about their company and the offer and will allow you the time to review the information before you purchase. If the offer is not available unless you buy "right now," then it is not worth taking the risk.
Never send money or give out your credit card or bank account numbers to unfamiliar businesses. Aside from granting the telemarketers immediate access to your accounts, your financial and personal information may be sold to other telemarketers or, even worse, they may set up their own credit identity with your personal financial information.
Be Wary! Common telemarketing scams include:
Prize Offers and Travel Packages: You usually have to do something to get your "free" prize: attend a sales presentation; buy something; give a check, credit card or bank account number for shipping charges, taxes, etc. Generally, such prizes are worthless or junk products. "Free" or low-cost vacations can end up, due to a lack of disclosure of additional charges, costing you money.
Recovery Scams: If you buy from any of the telemarketing scams, someone promising to get your money back may call you again. Note that even state consumer protection and law enforcement officials cannot guarantee recovery of your funds and would never ask you for money to assist you with a telemarketing complaint. The caller is in all likelihood a scam artist just trying to steal from you again.
"Slamming" and other Utility Problems: As the process of utility deregulation occurs, so do consumer problems as less than reputable players enter into the marketplace. Slamming is the illegal practice of switching a consumer's utility service [local and long distance telephone or natural gas] without their authorization or knowledge. The dramatic increase in telephone solicitations for telephone services (pre-paid calling cards, local and long distance services, etc.) has brought about an increase in the incidence of fraud regarding such services. Consumers are advised to request information in writing about the services and then make an educated decision. Consumers should also be wary of pyramid sales schemes, business opportunities, and too-good-to-be-true offers regarding utility services.
Multi-Level Distribution Companies: A multi-level distribution company recruits participants who, after paying a fee, earn commissions or bonuses by selling a product and recruiting other participants. Though you may be promised a substantial profit for a few hours of work, most people are unlikely to recover their investment. Even worse, unless the company is in compliance with Georgia law, participation may be a criminal act.
The Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and the Secretary of State’s Office may address unlawful activities through administrative processes or may proceed to court with the Georgia Attorney General as their legal representative. The Attorney General has the authority to request the court to stop the telemarketing fraud, prohibit future fraudulent activity and seek restitution for victims. In many cases, the Attorney General serves as the last line of defense in the war that the State of Georgia is waging against telemarketing fraud.
In the event you experience a telemarketing fraud problem, it is suggested that you contact one of the organizations listed below:
For Investments or Charitable Solicitations Issues, Contact:
The Office of the Secretary of State
Division of Securities and Business Regulation
2 M. L. King Jr. Drive, Suite 802
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
For General Consumer Matters, Contact:
The Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs
2 M. L. King Jr. Drive, Suite 356
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
1.800.869.1123 (toll free in Georgia, outside the metro Atlanta dialing area)
To Verify Registration of Charitable
Securities Broker/Dealers or Investment
Advisors with the State, Contact:
Charitable Organizations and Paid
Investment Advisors and Financial