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New Regulations Target Telephone Sales Fraud

The Federal Trade Commission has prepared some new rules aimed at preventing telephone sales fraud and is asking for public comment.

The agency said last week it wants to issue the telemarketing rules by Aug. 16, to take effect by mid-September.

The planned regulations would:

Require sales callers to reveal the name of the selling business, the fact that it is a sales call, the nature of the goods or services offered and, if a prize is offered, advise that no purchase is necessary to win.

Insist that the caller clearly explain the total costs and any restrictions on the purchase. Any mention of a refund, exchange or repurchase would have to be fully explained.

Prohibit any misrepresentation of the goods or services offered, including the odds of winning a prize and the performance of investment opportunities.

Limit sales calls to between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Ban calls to consumers who have indicated they don’t want sales calls.

Ban threats, intimidation, profane language and repeated calling.

Prohibit false or misleading statements to induce a consumer to pay for goods.

The Commission is seeking public comments on its proposed rule until June 30.

Comments can be sent to FTC, Office of the Secretary, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20580.

Own a Share campaign

The National Association of Individual Investors and dozens of corporations will conduct their “Own Your Own Share of America” campaign throughout June.

NAIC spokeswoman Kathy Loehrig said the goal is increased awareness of individual investment in stocks using an approach that stresses a buy-and-hold approach rather than short-term trading.

In its first three years, she said, the campaign has boosted the number of investors buying stocks for themselves, as well as nearly doubling NAIC membership.

An “Own Your Own Share of America” day is set for June 15.

Information about the campaign, NAIC and how to buy stocks can be obtained by calling 1-800-230-NAIC, or by writing: NAIC; P.O. Box 220; Royal Oak, MI.; 48068.

Petersburg calling

Ready for Russia? Then consider Petersburg Long Distance Inc., the only pure ex-Soviet play on a U.S. stock exchange.

It’s actually a Toronto-based holding company whose main asset provides local and international phone service in St. Petersburg, which someday (who knows?) may be the Hong Kong of the Baltic.

Petersburg hasn’t made a profit, and the stock is 50 percent off its 1994 high, but here’s some comfort: Shareholders include Citicorp and T. Rowe Price, and Adrian Day, a risk-averse newsletter writer, likes the stock.

Washington Mutual ranked

Money magazine named Washington Mutual the best bank in Washington state in its June issue.

To achieve best bank status, institutions included in a survey of 428 banks needed a high safety rating from Veribanc, a firm that analyzes financial institutions.

In addition, the magazine used the following criteria to rate the banks: the attractiveness of their consumer accounts and services; low-cost checking accounts; 24-hour telephone line staffed with live representatives; low fees for services such as money orders; access to automated teller machines; high yields and low minimum investment requirements on one-year certificates of deposit; weekend and/ or evening banking hours; home computer banking; lending record; and availability of home equity loans.

USAA Federal Savings Bank of San Antonio, Texas, was considered the nation’s best bank.

, DataTimes