WASHINGTON: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) coordinated nationwide arrests of telemarketing scammers to draw media attention to a new campaign educating consumers about telemarketing fraud.
Nat Wood, assistant director of the FTC's division of consumer and business education, said that launching the campaign in conjunction with the roundup by numerous law enforcement agencies of more than 180 lawbreakers helped draw attention to an issue that the media might not otherwise cover.
"If we announce 180 telemarketing actions and they sort of trickle out one by one over the course of the year by all these different agencies, nobody's going to notice," Wood said. "This is one way for us to try to make a bigger splash."
Launched May 20 at press conferences in DC, Chicago, and Clearwater, FL, the Who's Calling? campaign includes media outreach to print, radio, and TV outlets; a new Web site, ftc.gov/phonefraud; videos posted on the site and on social networking sites; and outreach to other consumer advocacy groups that can distribute the FTC materials on identifying and combating telemarketing fraud.
Ogilvy PR helped develop the $400,000 campaign and is assisting with outreach. FTC hired Ogilvy in October 2007 to provide outreach on both telemarketing fraud and the National Do Not Call Registry.
In the Web site materials, which partners can link to using online "badges" or buttons, the FTC describes a number of common phone scams, including those involving phony charities, and provides tips to identify them and verify legitimate organizations.
Wood noted that the branding of the site and related materials employs logos similar to those for the FTC's National Do Not Call Registry campaign.
Outreach to groups that could help promote the push include consumer protection groups, local civic groups, and law enforcement agencies around the US.
Outreach will also focus specifically on organizations that aid senior citizens, Hispanics, and blacks - demographic groups whose members statistically are more frequent victims of telemarketing scams, Wood said.