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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 5, 1999

Today the President will announce a new public-private partnership, called the "kNOw Fraud" initiative, to arm consumers with information so they can protect themselves from telemarketing fraud. It is estimated that illegal telemarketing operations bilk the American people of $40 billion every year. This initiative has three main parts. First, the President will announce that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will mail to every home in America -- approximately 120 million addresses -- an easy-to-read information card that lists key fraud prevention tips for consumers. The President also will launch a new toll-free number that consumers can call for assistance when they believe they have been the victims of telemarketing or mail fraud. The toll-free number will be staffed by representatives of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Approximately 1.5 million calls are expected. The President will unveil a series of public service television ads that tell consumers about the upcoming mailing. Along with USPS, the other participants in the public-private initiative are the AARP, the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the FTC, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Finally, the President will direct Justice to send him a plan to crack down on consumer fraud by strengthening enforcement, prevention, and coordination.

"kNOw Fraud"
The President will announce an unprecedented nationwide multi-media initiative to combat telemarketing and mail fraud which includes a mailing to every home in America, a new tollfree number, 16,000 fraud prevention videos, and website:

Directive to the DOJ to Prevent Fraud

The President also will announce a new directive to the DOJ to report back within six months with a plan (1) to prevent and enforce consumer fraud activities and (2) improve coordination among the federal government's consumer protection activities. In creating this plan, the President directed DOJ to cooperate and consult with all interested parties, including other federal agencies and offices -- including the FTC and SEC -- state and local law enforcement and consumer agencies, and consumers. This plan also should make efforts to build on efforts of the private sector, including non-profits, to protect consumers.

Consumer Protection in the Administration's Proposed Crime Bill

The President also highlighted new consumer safety measures which are included in his proposed crime legislation. Falling violent and property crime rates mean our nation's seniors are safer, but senior citizens remain threatened by telemarketing scams, retirement rip-offs, and abuse and neglect by caretakers. To help protect seniors from these crimes and punish the criminals who prey on elderly Americans, the President's bill would: