Michigan Telemarketing Laws/ Do-Not-Call List
The Attorney General provides Consumer Alerts to inform the public of unfair, misleading, or deceptive business practices, and to provide information and guidance on other issues of concern. Consumer Alerts are not legal advice, legal authority, or a binding legal opinion from the Department of Attorney General.
MICHIGAN TELEMARKETING LAWS
Consumer ammunition for fighting back against telemarketers
In December 2002, the Michigan Legislature passed laws to give consumers greater rights against telemarketers. To reduce the numbers of unwanted calls from telemarketers, Michigan joined the federal do-not-call list. To combat telemarketing fraud, certain unfair or deceptive practices are expressly prohibited.
This consumer alert provides an overview of these provisions of Michigan law. Information regarding federal do-not-call law is available at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website, www.donotcall.gov, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website, www.fcc.gov/cgb/policy/telemarketing.html.
By amendment to the Michigan Home Solicitation Sales Act, consumers who do not want to receive telemarketing calls may sign up on the National Do-Not-Call Registry, administered by the Federal Trade Commission. Subject to certain exemptions,* telephone solicitations to numbers on the list are prohibited. There is no cost to register. Once you have placed your home number or numbers, including any personal cell phone numbers, on the National Do-Not-Call Registry, your number(s) will remain on the list until you remove them or discontinue service-there is no need to re-register numbers. Telemarketers covered by the Registry have up to 31 days from the date you register to stop calling you.
HOW TO REGISTER
The quickest way to register is from the number you want to register toll-free 1-888-382-1222. Alternatively, consumers who have access to an e-mail address are able to sign up online (www.donotcall.gov). Additional information about this registry and how to sign on is available at the FTC's website: www.donotcall.gov.
Not all calls and callers are covered by the Michigan law. Exemptions include:
- Calls that do not encourage the purchase, rental, or investment in goods or services, such as calls conducting a survey, seeking a donation or contribution, or attempting to collect a debt.
- Calls from most charitable organizations (any organization subject to Michigan's Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act, MCL 400.271 to 400.294) and calls on behalf of a public safety organization (such as police or fire).
- Calls on behalf of political organizations (such as candidates or political parties).
- Calls made with the recipient's prior consent.
- Calls to an existing customer of the caller, unless the customer has specifically requested that he or she not receive calls from that company.
- Calls that request a
face-to-face meeting but do not encourage purchasing during the call. While
this is an exemption under Michigan law, these calls are a violation of
PROHIBITED CONDUCT BY TELEMARKETERS
The amendments to the Michigan Home Solicitation Sales Act also establish a telemarketers "code of conduct." Telephone solicitors may not:
- Misrepresent or fail to
- the total purchase price of the product being sold;
- any restrictions or conditions on purchase;
- any material term or condition regarding refund, cancellation, or exchange policies;
- any material condition relating to a prize offering;
- any material aspect of an investment opportunity being offered;
- the quantity, any material aspect of the quantity, or characteristics of the product being sold;
- Makes false or misleading statement to induce payment for goods or services;
- Request payment or submit a credit card charge before receiving express verifiable authorization showing that the consumer has agreed to purchase;
- Call a consumer who has requested that he or she not receive calls from the seller on whose behalf the call is made;
- Intentionally block or interfere with the caller ID function on a consumer's phone;
- Make a call that consists in whole or in part of a recorded message;
- Make a telephone solicitation to a telephone subscriber whose number is on the do-not-call list.
At the beginning of a telemarketing call, the telemarketer must state his or her name and the full name of the business they are calling for. A telephone number for the business must be provided on request, and a live person must be available to answer that telephone number and give information describing the business itself and the offer being pitched.
REMEDY AND PENALTIES
Persons who suffer loss as a result of a violation of the law may bring a private lawsuit to recover actual damages or $250.00, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney fees.
Violators are also subject to penalties provided by the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, as a violation of the Home Solicitation Sales Act also constitutes a violation of the Consumer Protection Act. The Attorney General, a county prosecutor, or individual consumer may bring a lawsuit under the Consumer Protection Act.
Additionally, certain violations are punishable as a misdemeanor, or by imprisonment for not more than six months or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both. (This penalty applies to commission of acts that are defined as being unfair or deceptive by the act, such as certain misrepresentations by telephone solicitors. It does not apply to violations of the do-not-call provisions.)
Complaints for violations of the no-call law may be filed with the Federal Trade Commission, www.donotcall.gov, the Federal Communications Commission, firstname.lastname@example.org, and with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. For your assistance in filing with the Attorney General, a Do-Not-Call complaint form may be found on the Attorney General's website: www.michigan.gov/ag. Mail complaints to:
Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Toll free: 877-765-8388