Some salespeople of telecommunications firms are luring elderly customers using misleading or false information, the industry's watchdog said yesterday. In one case, a Hutchison Global Communications salesman told a 76-year-old man that rival PCCW-HKT had merged with HGC and was offering a cheaper plan, the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (Ofta) said. In another, a New World Telecommunications salesman told a consumer PCCW-HKT and New World Telecom had merged. Neither of the claims was true. Ofta director-general Au Man-ho urged consumers, especially older people, to be careful when signing any contracts. 'Many old people are easily trapped, because of their poor eyesight or inability to read. They can't read the contract and believe anything the sales people tell them,' he said. Council chief executive Pamela Chan Wong Shui said that some salesmen did not even tell the public which company they were working for. 'Some claimed to fix the original contracts for the consumers but it might not happen. Consumers are advised to read the contract terms carefully,' she said. Between 2000 and March 24 this year, Ofta received 391 complaints against telecommunications companies' sales tactics. Eighty-six of them were found to have violated section 7M of the Telecommunications Ordinance. Complaints about unethical sales techniques significantly increased from 57 in 2003 to 145 last year. The maximum penalty Ofta can impose is $200,000 for violation of section 7M.