Telemarketing: An Ohio Guide to Your Rights
After your Ohio accident, you may be contacted by phone (telemarketed) by people representing chiropractors, body shops, car dealers, medical doctors and physical therapists among others. Most provide valuable information about services you may need after your accident, like medical care and car repair. However, a few may violate Ohio law when they contact you. You should know your rights when you start to get these calls.
First, telemarketing in Ohio is currently legal but the telemarketers must follow Federal and Ohio law. Ohio’s Telephone Solicitation Sales Act (RC 4719.01 et seq. ) generally mimics relevant federal laws and puts limits on what telemarketers can say. Each violation of this Ohio law carries with it a criminal penalty of a 5th degree felony and up to a $25,000 civil penalty per violation. With many violations possible per call, the criminal and economic sanctions can be significant. It is important that service providers know exactly what their telemarketers are and are not saying on each phone call.
If you experience any of the following, you may contact the Ohio Attorney General’s office at 800-282-0515 or www.ohioprotects.org
- A telemarketer directly or implies they are from an auto insurance company and tells you where you must treat for your injuries.
- A telemarketer fails to inform you of the cost of the service, and that you are ultimately responsible for the bill whether or not your claim settles.
- A telemarketer intentionally blocks their phone number.
- A telemarketer directly or indirectly states they work for or with a lawyer.
- You told the telemarketer no and they still call you.
- You feel you were harassed or coerced on the phone call.
- Telemarketer fails in the first 60 seconds of the call to state their real name and company on whose behalf they are calling, the purpose of the call is to make a sale and what services are being sold on the phone call.
If the telemarketer is or works for a chiropractor, additional, very stringent rules apply. Ohio Admin. Code 4734-9-02.
As a general rule, chiropractic telemarketers can not use false, fraudulent, deceptive or misleading information. OAC 4734-9-02 (C )
Chiropractors shall maintain a list of the names, phone numbers and script used on all people called for 6 months. OAC 4734-9-02(N)
Additional violations spelled out in OAC 4734-9-02(O) include
- Use of threats, intimidation, or profane or obscene language.
- Contacting you repeatedly or continuously, or after being advised you have no interest in receiving chiropractic services.
- Contacting an individual on the do not call list.
- Calling you before 8 am or after 9 pm. local time.
- Requiring an immediate answer from you to any offer made or a one time only offer.
- Not permitting you to consider the offer and reply at a later time.
- Not providing the phone number of the chiropractor they are calling for.
- Misrepresenting an affiliation or endorsement by the government, auto insurance company or any other third party.
- Trying to get you to leave your doctor and go with their chiropractor.
- Invading your privacy.
- Failing to tell you how they got your name and information.
- Failing to tell you that you do not have to respond to any offer they make.
- Contacting anyone under the age of 18.
- Offering cash, gift cards or cash equivalents to you to get you to come get medical care from them.
- Blocking their phone number.
These rules also apply to messages left on your voicemail.
Penalties for violating these rules are as follows:
- First offense, up to $2,000.00
- Second offense, between $500.00 and $5,000.00
- Third and later offense, between $1,000.00 and $5,000.00.
Ohio Admin code 4734-9-02
If you believe a chiropractic telemarketer has broken these rules, you can contact the Ohio Attorney General at 800-282-0515 or www.ohioprotects.org or the Ohio Chiropractic Board at 888-772-1384. You do not have to put up with abusive, harassing phone calls if you get any. You have the right to have these telemarketers stop harassing you and others and you can play a big part in this by turning in those few telemarketers who break the rules. Everyone else will be grateful you did, especially those telemarketers who play by the rules and respect your rights and treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve and the law demands.