The National Do Not Call Registry provides little barrier to “robocall” telemarketers, the Federal Trade Commission says. The FTC is pursuing legal action against two telemarketing groups that have placed hundreds of millions of prerecorded calls to consumers, often ignoring the wishes of consumers who registered on the National Do Not Call Registry.
These messages pitched a variety of products and services, including debt relief services, carpet and upholstery cleaning services, auto warranties, mortgage loan modification and foreclosure assistance, timeshares, satellite dish broadcasting, and burial insurance.
The FTC complaint alleges that defendants Brian Ebersole, Voice Marketing, Inc., and B2B Voice Broadcasting, Incas well as JGRD, Inc. also known as VoiceBlaze – along with principles Charles Joseph Garis, Jr. and Randall Keith Delp– all violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule and knowingly illegally contacted numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. Voice Marketing allegedly sold equipment to facilitate robocall operations, enabling other companies such as VoiceBlaze to conduct millions of illegal calls per day for only pennies.
The FTC says that Robocalls, or prerecorded phone calls are often scams. The FTC has numerous complaints against similar operations and that offer fraudulent credit card services, warranty protection, home security systems, and grant procurement programs.
In another violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule, the VoiceBlaze defendants allegedly misrepresented their identification on caller ID displays to show names such as "CUSTOMERSVC," "CUST SERVICE," "SERVICE," "SERVICE ANNOUNC" and "INSURANCECO."
Both defendants reached a settlement that prohibits them from violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule and requires them to pay civil penalties. Each set of defendants will pay $10,000. The courts also awarded $3 million in civil penalty judgments. However, those payments are suspended as Voice Marketing and VoiceBlaze are unable to financially make payments.
The FTC recommends that consumers should hang up on any prerecorded call, get the caller ID information if possible and file a complaint with the FTC.
-Elise Rambaud Marrion @emarrion_cmn