Sweepstakes and Lottery Winner Scam

A long time scam not just on the phone lines, but by direct mail, e-mail and more, make individuals believe that they have one a sweepstakes or lottery. The targeted individuals are encouraged to make a small payment (covering administrative fees, shipping, etc) to collect their “Grand Prize,” which may vary from things such as a free vacation to Hawaii, or a new car. For the unfortunate that make this payment, they find they never actually receive, or are able to collect their prize, and can no longer reach the individual that collected the small payment.

Extended Auto Warranty Scam

Currently one of the heaviest use phone telemarketer phone abuse scams relate to selling Car/Automobile Warranties; These calls are usually executed as robocall (computerized autodialer), and user are warned that “Factory Warranty is Expiring on their Vehicle” and that this is their “Final Notice” and are prompted to speak with a representative. The dialer lists have numbers both mobile and landline, for many individuals that do not even own cars.

The telemarketing companies executing these robocalls often use numbers that are masked, and are difficult, if not impossible to get back in touch with or call back.

Government Sues Dish Network for Telemarketing

Federal officials and four states Wednesday filed suit against satellite-TV service Dish Network, saying that “numerous” consumers on the national do-not-call list were called on its behalf in violation of the law.

The suit was filed in federal court in Illinois by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission against Dish Network LLC, a unit of Dish Network Corp. The attorneys general of California, Illinois, Ohio, and North Carolina joined in the complaint.

Also sued were two companies identified as Dish Network dealers, Vision Quest LLC and New Edge Satellite Inc. Those suits were filed in federal court in Michigan.

Englewood, Colo.-based Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) disputed the allegations against it, saying it is in compliance with “do-not-call” laws.

“We look forward to resolving these differences of opinion through the judicial process,” the company said in a statement Wednedsay.

The federal complaint alleges that Dish Network, “directly and through its authorized dealers,” called customers on the National Do Not Call Registry.

The complaint also alleged that the company violated federal telemarketing rules by assisting its authorized dealers in marketing Dish Network services via automatic “robocalls” to potential customers.

“Since the National Do Not Call Registry was launched, it has been enormously effective at protecting millions of Americans from unwanted telemarketing calls at home,” Eileen Harrington, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement Wednesday. “But because a few bad actors still don’t get it, we want to make it crystal clear. If you call consumers whose numbers are on the Do Not Call Registry, you’re breaking the law. If your authorized dealers call consumers whose numbers are on the registry, you’re breaking the law. Either way, we will protect the privacy of American consumers and we will hold you accountable.”

The government is seeking unspecified civil penalties. It also wants an injunction against Dish Network barring it from violating do-not-call and telemarketing laws and requiring it to monitor its dealers’ compliance.

In its statement, Dish Network said it should not be “held responsible for ‘do-not-call’ violations by independent retailers.” It said the FTC “is equating merely doing business with an independent retailer to ‘causing’ or ‘assisting and facilitating’ violations by that retailer, which creates a strict liability standard that does not exist in the law and was not intended by Congress.”

The state attorneys general made separate allegations in the complaint accusing Dish Network of violating their state laws.

Last year, federal officials sued two other Dish Network dealers — Planet Earth Satellite Inc., doing business as Teichert Marketing; and Star Satellite LLC, doing business as Tenaya Marketing. Those companies settled the complaints against them for a combined $95,000.

Dish Network serves about 13.7 million satellite-TV customers.

Verizon Sues Velveteen Rabbit Telemarketers

Verizon has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Trenton, NJ, against telemarketers making illegal calls to it’s cellular subscribes. This time Verizon has launched the lawsuit against a telemarketer promoting the Velveteen Rabbit Movie by Feature Films for Families, Inc. On February 6th, almost 10,000 calls were made from a single caller ID number between 7PM and 8PM yielding an average of one call every .36 seconds. Calls were made from Caller IDs including: 917-210-4609, 617-245-9601, 435-787-9018, 626-551-3308.

Verizon’s lawsuit alleges violations of the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which makes it illegal for a telemarketer to use an autodialer to make calls to wireless phones. Verizon also immediately filed an injunction and won against Feature Films for Families, to cease the calls.

In a press release by Verizon, Steven Zipperstein, Verizon Vice President and General Counsel notes: “Telemarketers continue to harass our customers and impinge on their privacy, often using illegal methods including autodialers… Whatever their methods and whatever their product, these unlawful telemarketing calls are an annoyance to our customers and invade their privacy,” he added.

Matthew Cooper, general counsel for Feature Films for Families, noted that “We believe the campaign complied with all applicable federal and state laws,” Cooper said. “The intention was to get the word out on this wonderful family film. We certainly apologize for any concerns or inconvenience it may have caused.”

3/24/2009

Verizon settles lawsuit against (Velveteen Rabbit Movie by) Feature Films for Families Inc. based in Murray, Utah.

Verizon claimed that 500,000 calls made to Verizon Wireless customers and employees over 10 days (33 calls a second) in early February were illegal. Verizon won a injunction in U.S. District Court New Jersey to prevent Feature Films for Families Inc. from making calls to it’s subscribers in the future.

As part of the settlement the telemarketing company has agreed to pay $25000 USD to the National Domestic Violence Hotline in Austin, TX.