FTC Stops RoboCalls for Worthless Credit Services

FTC takes action against pre-recorded sales calls to consumers…

In the second major law enforcement effort against telemarketers this year, the Federal Trade Commission filed lawsuits against three firms in federal courts in Florida, Georgia and Illinois they allege made illegal, recorded, automated calls and violated the ‘Do not call rule’ by making hundreds of thousands or even millions of pre-recorded robocalls to consumers. The firms allegedly violated the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule that went into affect on September 1, 2009, that prohibited prerecorded, commercial, telemarketing calls to consumers, commonly known as robocalls, unless permission has been obtained from the consumer in writing that they want to receive such calls.

“The FTC has heard the public outcry against robocalls and has taken swift action to stop them. During these difficult economic times, the last thing anyone needs is to be bombarded by robocalls pitching worthless interest-rate reduction programs,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. “The lawsuits announced are not the first, nor will they be the last, that the agency brings to protect consumers from intrusive, illegal, and deceptive telemarketing robocalls.”

Economic Relief Technologies LLC; Dynamic Financial Group (U.S.A.) Inc., JPM Accelerated Services and several affiliated companies and individuals were named in the complaints alleging they collected hefty, upfront fees of as much as $1,495 for a service that promised to save thousands of dollars in a short period of time by lowering consumers’ credit card interest rates, with the promise of a full refund, if they failed to negotiate lower fees and save the consumer a ‘guaranteed’ amount. In each case, consumers who pressed 1 after hearing the automated call were transferred to live telemarketers who allegedly misrepresented that consumers could dramatically lower the rates on their credit card. The FTC says the companies never tried to negotiate lower fees and few refunds were paid out to dissatisfied consumers. In each of the three cases, the FTC has issued an order temporarily halting the automated calls pending trial.

Additional charges include:

  1. Calling consumers whose phone numbers are on the National Do Not Call Registry;
  2. Calling consumers who had previously asked not to be called;
  3. Failing to transmit their caller ID information, as required;
  4. Masking their caller ID information;
  5. Failing to promptly identify themselves, the purpose of their call, and/or the nature of the goods or services they were selling;
  6. Improperly abandoning calls; and
  7. Failing to make required disclosures in their robocalls.

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