Investigate Before You Invest
Dear Georgia Consumer,
A recent study by the Federal Trade Commission revealed that telemarketing scams rob consumers of 40 billion dollars annually. In Georgia alone, they cheat their victims out of more than 500 million dollars each year. With more than 75 percent of fraud occurring over the phone, every Georgian with a phone is potentially at risk of being victimized.
The National Consumers League estimates that more than 10 percent of all telemarketing calls are fraudulent. Whether they are promising a "last chance offer," a "cant miss" investment or a "worthy" charitable contribution, it is becoming harder than ever to distinguish legitimate telemarketers from those operating illegally.
The Secretary of States office, the Governors Office of Consumer Affairs and the Attorney Generals office are working together to protect Georgia consumers from these fraudulent operators. Our efforts have resulted in new legislation making telemarketing fraud a felony, doubling the penalties for those who target the elderly or disabled and establishing a Georgia No Call List for residents who do not wish to be called by telemarketers at home.
But remember, as with most crimes, the best cure for telemarketing fraud is prevention. We hope this brochure serves as a useful tool to help protect you from the criminals who use a phone, rather then a gun or knife, to steal your hard-earned money.
Unwanted Telemarketing Calls
Once you get on a call list, you can expect to be contacted by a wide range of telemarketing firms for an indefinite period. You may be contacted by means of computerized call offers and facsimile transmissions. Unsolicited telemarketing calls placed by a computer or delivered by a recorded message are illegal under Georgia law. The recipient may consent to receive such a call only if a line 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 recipients consent.
The Georgia General Assembly passed legislation in 1998 allowing consumers to avoid calls from telephone solicitors by having their telephone numbers placed on the Georgia No-Call List. Telephone solicitors are prohibited from calling any 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 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 payed for each telephone number which 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 www.ganocall.com.
Charitable SolicitationsCharitable organizations that are not religious in nature and those paid to solicit charitable contributions must register with the Office of Secretary of State in order to solicit contributions in Georgia.
If you are called, you should ask the caller for the following information:
You may call the Office of Secretary of State at (404) 656-3920 or use this site to verify that the charity or paid solicitor is registered to operate in Georgia.
If a charity caller offers to send someone to your home to pick up a monetary contribution, contact out office at (404) 656-3920.
Securities Firms and Investment Advisors
Issuers of securities, securities firms, securities salespersons and investment advisors doing business in Georgia are regulated by the Secretary of State. 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:
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 SolicitationsThe 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 you are solicited by a telemarketer, the following advice is important:
Be Wary! Common telemarketing scams:
The Georgia Attorney General has the authority to go into court to stop telemarketing fraud and seek recovery for victims when the Office of Secretary of State and the Office of Consumer Affairs find unlawful activities which cannot be resolved through their own administrative processes. 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:
To verify registration of charitable organizations, securities broker/dealers or investment advisors with the state:
Charitable Organizations and Paid Solicitors
Investment Advisors and Financial Planners