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Telemarketing scams

Telemarketing scams

We work with the Massachusetts attorney general to educate consumers on a variety of topics. Learn about telemarketing laws and how you can spot a scam.

TELEMARKETING SALES RULES

Federal telemarketing laws apply to most telemarketers:

  • It's illegal for a telemarketer to call you if you've already asked them not to.
  • They can only call you between 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.
  • They must tell you that you don't need to buy or pay for anything to win a prize. If they say you need to pay for a prize, it's a scam.
  • It's illegal for them to lie about their products or services in any way.
  • You don't have to pay for credit repair, money recovery, or loan services until you've received them.
  • They’re never allowed to fax you or use recorded messages, and they can’t use blocking devices to hide their number.

Telemarketers must tell you the following within the first minute of the call:

  • the reason for the call
  • the name of the telemarketer and company, and
  • an accurate description of what they're selling.

Before discussing payment, they must tell you:

  • the total cost of what they're selling
  • any limitations on the purchase
  • their refund and return policy
  • anything you'll get in exchange for an investment, and  
  • the price, location, and nature of any investments.

Telemarketing laws don't apply to catalog sales, businesses-to-business sales, or if you’ve already had face-to-face meetings.

LOOK OUT FOR TELEMARKETING SCAMS

Keep the list of telemarketing laws near your phone. A legitimate company will follow the rules. Remember to take your time and ask for written information before you buy.

Be careful not to verbally agree to something —  it could mean you have to buy what they’re selling. Also never send money by courier, overnight mail, or wire transfer to anyone.

You should also never give out social security, credit card, or bank numbers unless you're sure of who it is.

Still have questions? Contact:
Consumer Affairs and Licensing
617-635-3834
1 City Hall Square
Room 817
Boston, MA 02201-2039
United States

Do not call registry

The Do Not Call Registry was created in 2003. Signing up for the Registry makes it illegal for telemarketers to contact you. It's a free list and all Massachusetts residents are welcome to sign up.

The registry is updated four times a year and telemarketers must pay a fee to get the registry.

You can register home and cell phone numbers, and you only need to register your phone number once. Businesses numbers aren't eligible.

HOW TO REGISTER YOUR PHONE NUMBER

There are three ways to register:

  1. Register online through the state's website.
  2. Call 1-866-231-2255 (it's an automated system), or
  3. Print out and complete a Do Not Call form (don't forget to include your name, address, and phone number) and mail it to:
  • Massachusetts Do Not Call Program
  • c/o First Data
  • 11311 Cornell Park Drive, Suite 300
  • Cincinnati, Ohio 45242
Who can call you

You can expect these types of calls:

  • noncommercial calls or surveys
  • calls from nonprofit groups
  • calls that you gave permission for or requested
  • calls related to an existing contract or debt, or if you’re already a customer
  • sales calls where you'll have to attend a meeting or presentation before buying, and
  • any other calls that aren't covered by this list.

Telemarketing laws don't apply to emails and junk mail. For more information, visit the Mass.gov page for Consumer Affairs.