Mail Solicitations

Background

With the wide use of computerized mailing lists, unscrupulous marketers can target specific market segments for scams or questionable products. Older people are often the target of scams involving misleading information that appears to be from a government agency or that offers what appears to be free but is actually part of a profit-making scheme. For example, acceptance of an offer of free information about Medicare may result in an unsolicited visit from an insurance agent.

In some cases, services that the government provides at no cost may be offered for a fee. Some charitable solicitations are also disguised efforts by telemarketers to gouge consumers, with little of the collected money actually being distributed to the charity.

Mail Solicitations: Policy

Misleading mailings

In this policy: FederalState

Congress and the states should pass legislation to deter solicitors from using mailings that appear to come from the government, and to eliminate deceptive and misleading games-of-chance mailings, including sweepstakes.

Charities

In this policy: FederalState

In order to deter fraudulent use of charity look-alike names for solicitation and to better inform consumers, all charities (and all people and entities soliciting on behalf of charities) should be required to disclose what portion of public contributions is spent on activities related to the group’s charitable purpose.

Enforcement

In this policy: FederalState

The Federal Trade Commission, state attorneys general, the US Postal Service, and other regulatory officials should vigorously enforce applicable laws and regulations, and should intensify efforts to increase consumer awareness of fraudulent tactics.