Thursday, August 15, 2002

900 number crimes in Delaware

Despite the fact that the police and prosecutors have never heard of it, it is a crime in Delaware to tell someone that they have won a contest or such, and to collect their prize they must call a 900 number. The law is as follows:

11 Del. C. § 906. Deceptive business practices; class A misdemeanor.
A person is guilty of deceptive business practices when in the course of business the person knowingly or recklessly:
(7) Notifies any other person that the other person has won a prize, received an award or has been selected or is eligible to receive anything of value if the other person is required to respond through the use of a 900 service telephone number or similar service number.

I receive solicitations which are in violation of this law all the time. I have reported them to the police on dozens of occasions. The conversation with the 911 operator (they force you to use the 911 operator even if you don't believe it is an emergency) usually goes something like this:

Me: I am calling to report a crime of deceptive business practices.
Operator: What?
Me: I received a notice in the mail that says I won a contest and that I must call a 900 number to collect it. That is a crime.
Operator: What crime?
Me: It is a deceptive business practice under 11 Del. C. 906 (7)
Operator: I have never heard of that.
Me: would you like me to fax you a copy of the law?
Operator: No
Me: Well, I would like to make a criminal complaint.
Operator: I will have an officer contact you [muffled guffaw]

Once in a while an officer does call me, just because he is curious I suppose. I fax them the law and the offending literature and I never hear from them again. When I retire I may just make a career out of prosecuting these scoundrels....not.

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