- How is the law enforced?
- Tips for tracking telemarketing violations
- Did the call I received violate the law?
- How do I file a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General?
- How do I file suit against a violator?
- How do I file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission?
The Do Not Call Act provides consumers with two ways to take action against those who violate the law. Consumers may file a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General who is empowered to take legal action against those who violate any aspect of the law. Consumers can also bring their own lawsuit and attempt to recover damages up to $5,000 if they receive more than one unsolicited sales call within 12 months by the same person or entity. Only certain calls violate the law, so consumers must check that they have a qualifying complaint before filing a complaint or pursuing legal action.
Not all telephone calls are prohibited, even after you sign up on the Do Not Call Registry. Therefore it is important for you to keep track of the dates and times of the calls you receive, and whether or not the telemarketer made the proper disclosures so that you can determine whether your rights have been violated. Keep this handy Do Not Call Checklist by your phone and you will have all the information you need to file a complaint with the Attorney General or to file suit yourself. If you get a call, don't just hang up; keep track of the information you will need.
- Date and Time of the Alleged Violation
- Number Appearing on Caller ID (if available)
- Name of Company Selling Product or Service
- Name and Address of Telemarketing Firm and Manager's Name (if available)
- Any Product or Service Information
Did the Call I Received Violate the Law?
Before filing a complaint or taking legal action, check to see if the call was permitted because it falls under one of the following exemptions:
- Noncommercial polls or surveys, e.g. political polls;
- Calls made by tax-exempt non-profit organizations, e.g. fundraising calls from universities or charities;
- Calls made to consumers with that consumer's express permission;
- Calls made to consumers in response to a visit to that company's fixed commercial location;
- Sales calls made primarily in connection with an existing contract or debt;
- Sales calls to an existing customer;
- Sales calls in the context of ongoing sales when face-to-face presentations or meetings are needed for payment.
If the call is not permitted under the exemptions and you can answer "YES" to any of the following questions, the call may have violated the law:
Did I receive the call after the effective date of my registration on the Do Not Call Registry? Remember, the list is provided to telemarketers quarterly. It may take up to 90 days after you sign up for unsolicited sales calls to stop. You may check your effective date online.
- Did I receive the call after 8 p.m. or before 8 a.m.?
- Did I receive a solicitation by fax?
- Did I receive a solicitation from a recorded message?
- Did the call I received block my caller ID device?
- Did the caller fail to make the required disclosures?
- Within the first 60 seconds the caller must disclose:
- the sales purpose of the call
- the name of the telemarketing company
- the name of the ultimate seller of the goods or services
- an accurate description of the goods or services being sold?
- Before accepting or arranging for payment, the caller must disclose:
- the price of the goods or services, including tax, shipping & handling
- any restrictions or limitations on the purchase
- all policies regarding return, exchange or cancellation
- all aspects of any investment including price, location and risk?
- If a consumer is filing suit himself or herself, is this at least the second call from this same person or entity within the past 12 months?
To file a complaint with the Attorney General complete the online complaint form and follow the directions provided. To contact the Attorney General directly, call 617-727-8400.
The Massachusetts Attorney General may initiate proceedings against an individual or a company for a knowing violation of this law.
- The Attorney General may investigate complaints from consumers, issue subpoenas and conduct hearings in the course of an investigation.
- The Attorney General may seek an injunction to stop an individual or company from telemarketing or may seek civil penalties or fines. A fine may be up to $5,000 for each violation. Violations against someone 65 years of age or older will result in a fine of not less than $1,500 per violation.
- To file a complaint with the Attorney General, you will need the complete and accurate name, address and phone number(s) of the company or individual(s) with whom you are having a dispute.
- If the complaint is appropriate for the Attorney General, then it will be recorded in the Attorney General's Consumer Complaint and Information Section. If the problem you describe should develop into a case involving a large number of consumers, the Attorney General will contact you for more details.
The law also provides consumers with the right to take legal action on their own by bringing a lawsuit against an individual or companies who violates the law.
- Any consumer who has received more than 1 unsolicited sales telephone call during a 12-month period from the same person or entity may bring an action in court to have any further calls stopped and to recover a financial award.
- Consumers may be awarded up to $5,000 in damages or the actual amount of the injury whichever is greater. The winner may also be awarded reasonable attorney's fees and costs from the other party.
- If a consumer brings action against a company for a violation of this law, you may also be awarded any applicable remedies pursuant to the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act (M.G.L. ch. 93A). To start this process you will need to write a 30 day demand letter.
- No action may be taken against a company if it is more than three years after the person bringing the action knew or should have known about the violation or it is more than three years after the termination of action taken by the Commonwealth.
The Law section of this website also describes additional consumer protection available under the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Under this law you may file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.