State of Minnesota
More about
Attorney General
Lori Swanson


Minnesota Attorney General's Office

1400 Bremer Tower
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101

(651) 296-3353
(800) 657-3787

M - F 8 am - 5 pm

TTY:(651) 297-7206
TTY:(800) 366-4812

Consumer

The Phone Handbook

 

Telemarketing And Privacy

How Did They Get My Name?

Many magazines, credit card companies, banks, clubs, organizations, charities and retailers offer their customer or donor lists to other businesses for a fee. Professional marketing companies and the credit bureaus that provide information on creditworthy consumers also compile lists. Your name and phone number may be collected whenever you call a 1-800 number, as well as when you fill out surveys or forms on the Internet. Information supplied to the State of Minnesota, such as for your driver’s license, may also be sold to marketers. Each time you call someone with Caller ID your name and telephone number are revealed unless you block the release of your name and number. Many people with unlisted or nonpublished numbers are surprised to find out that this information is released when they call someone with Caller ID.

Will Placing My Name On The Do Not Call List Stop Telemarketing Calls?

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) registers consumers on a National Do Not Call list. The best way to register your number is to sign up at www.donotcall.gov.

Unfortunately, placing your name on the Do Not Call list will not stop all telemarketing calls. For instance, the Minnesota law still allows charitable organizations and political organizations to continue to place telemarketing calls to Minnesotans on the Do Not Call list. Businesses with a prior relationship with a customer and solicitors who do not intend to complete a sales transaction over the phone are also allowed to legally continue their telemarketing under the Minnesota law.

How Else Can I Stop Telemarketers From Calling?

You have the power to stop unwanted telemarketing calls by requesting that a company remove your name from the company’s call list. Follow-up with companies in writing and clearly state that you no longer wish to receive any calls from them.

You can also reduce the number of telemarketers that have your name on their lists by telling the companies and organizations you do business with not to give out or sell your name, address, or telephone number. When you order from a catalog, sign up for utility service, apply for a credit card, or use a check, include a note stating: “Do not rent, trade, sell or give away my name, address or phone number.” You may request that the state not sell your driver’s license information.

The three major credit bureaus, in addition to maintaining your credit report, sell to companies lists of individuals who meet a certain credit criteria. To remove your name from the generated lists, you should call the “Opt Out” hotline for the three major credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and Trans Union at: 1-888- 5OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or “Opt Out” online at: www.optoutprescreen.com.

Can I Use Caller ID To Stop Telemarketers?

Some services are designed to give you more control over incoming calls. These services will have one-time and/or monthly charges and may have only limited success. Caller ID is a service that uses a display on your phone to identify who is calling you. You may lease or purchase a Caller ID display unit at a retail outlet or from your local phone company, and you may need to pay your local phone company a monthly fee for the identification data. Because of technical limitations or because callers have blocked the release of the information, Caller ID is not able to identify many calls. In addition, callers using computers to place calls to traditional phones can easily falsify their information and appear to be someone else entirely. Caller ID should not be relied upon because it is very easy to falsify. If you are receiving calls from Caller ID numbers that are falsified, you may file a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Commerce or the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Many telemarketers use these limitations to prevent you from using Caller ID to screen them out.

When you use Caller ID blocking, your calls show up on the other person’s Caller ID box as “anonymous” or "private.” Contact your local phone company to find out how to protect your privacy when using Caller ID. Caller ID blocking does not work for calls to toll-free numbers - your telephone number is always released to the company or person you are calling. When calling a 1-800 number, you have the right to request that your name and number not be used for telemarketing purposes.

Calls From Pre-Recorded Messages

Two federal laws, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) and Telemarketing Sales Rule (“TSR”) and a state law, Minn. Stat. 325E.27, prohibit prerecorded messages to residential telephones, except in certain circumstances:

Prerecorded messages must disclose at the outset of the call that the recipient may ask to be placed on the company’s do-not-call list at any time during the message. The message must state, at the beginning, the identity of the caller and during or after the message, the caller’s phone number. Under federal law, in general, telemarketers may not use prerecorded message calls unless the consumer has provided affirmative consent.

Telemarketing Disclosures

Anyone soliciting business over the phone must tell you that it is a sales call and whom he or she represents before they make their pitch. If it is a prize promotion, they must tell you that no purchase or payment is necessary to enter or win. If you are asked to pay for a prize, hang up. It’s illegal for telemarketers to misrepresent any information, including facts about their goods, investment opportunities or services. If you think that a telemarketer lied about a product or service, report the company to the Attorney General’s Office or the Better Business Bureau.

The TSR is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”). To file a complaint or learn more about the law and any applicable exceptions, you may contact the FTC as follows:

Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20580
Toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov

The TCPA is enforced by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”). To file a complaint, or learn more about the law and any applicable exceptions, you may contact the FCC as follows:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Complaints
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
888-225-5322
TTY:888-835-5322
www.fcc.gov

Clues To A Con

Be on guard against crooked callers and other con artists who use tactics like these:

  • Promise you prizes for buying products such as pens, office supplies, vitamins, beauty and health products, or “Say No to Drugs” merchandise. These products are usually sold at ridiculously high prices. You may be asked to pay $500 to $2,000 for items that are worth less than $100.
  • Demand your credit card number or checking account number.
  • Pressure you to act quickly.
  • Keep you on the phone for long periods of time.
  • Offer to send someone (often an over night delivery service) to pick up your cash or check immediately, or want you to wire money to them.
  • Refuse to send written materials about their products or company.
  • Promise to recover money you have lost to other companies.

Resources

 

Minnesota Attorney General's Office
1400 Bremer Tower
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
(651) 296-3353
1-800-657-3787
TTY: (651) 297-7206
TTY: 1-800-366-4812

Better Business Bureau
220 South River Ridge Circle
Burnsville, MN 55337
651-699-1111
1-800-646-6222
www.bbb.org

NCL's Fraud Center
c/o National Consumers League
1701 K Street, NW, Suite 1200
Washington, DC 20006
www.fraud.org

Charities Review Council
2610 University Avenue West, Suite 375
St. Paul, MN 55114-2007
651-224-7030 or 1-800-733-4483
www.smartgivers.org

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Complaints
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554
888-225-5322
TTY: 888-835-5322
www.fcc.gov

Public Utilities Commission
Metro Square, Suite 350
121 Seventh Place East
St. Paul, MN 55101
651-296-7124 or 800-657-3782
TTY: 651-297-1200
www.puc.state.mn.us

Minnesota Department of Commerce
85 East 7th Place, Suite 500
St. Paul, MN 55101
(651) 539-1500
www.commerce.state.mn.us