WASHINGTON — Announcing a new mail campaign to thwart telemarketing fraud, President Clinton said Saturday that many older Americans face a greater threat from "a scam artist on the phone" than from a mugger on the street.
In his weekly radio address, Clinton announced that every American household will soon receive a postcard with tips on avoiding telemarketing rip-offs.
"This is the largest consumer protection mailing in our history," Clinton said. "It will provide information you can keep by the phone to help you distinguish between fraudulent and legitimate telemarketers."
The postcards, which will begin arriving Nov. 15, will include a set of warnings, such as telling people to avoid giving unknown callers important financial information.
Clinton also directed Atty. Gen. Janet Reno to send him a plan to combat consumer fraud and to increase prevention and enforcement.
The FBI has reported that telemarketing fraud takes between $40 billion and $60 billion a year from Americans.
Clinton said a toll-free telephone number soon will be available for victims of telemarketing fraud, but people can receive prevention tips and file complaints on the Internet at http://www.consumer.gov.
The campaign, Project "Know Fraud," is being led by the U.S. Postal Service, the American Assn. of Retired Persons, the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission, the National Assn. of Attorneys General and the Securities and Exchange Commission.