Past Quotes Of The Week
Read anything interesting or outrageous from our wonderful friends in the telemarketing industry? E-mail it to us! It may be our next "Quote Of The Week!"
December 28, 2008
"We aren't giving any free passes to politicians who pummel Indiana with robo calls
Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter commenting about the Indiana Supreme Court's ruling that the state can go forward with lawsuits against companies that use autodialing machines to make prerecorded telephone calls in political races.
The court ruled 5-0 Tuesday to overturn a trial court's decision to dismiss a state lawsuit against American Family Voices. At issue was whether the state's 1988 law banning so-called "robo calls" covers political calls as well as commercial and sales calls.
Carter's office filed suit against the Washington, D.C. group in 2006 after it made calls criticizing Republican Mike Sodrel during his race against Democrat Baron Hill for southern Indiana's 9th congressional district seat.
American Family Voices claimed Indiana's telemarketing law was clearly intended to regulate only commercial speech because it tries to solicit the purchase of goods or services.
The state Republican and Democratic parties, while not named in the lawsuit, filed a joint brief with the Supreme Court, saying that automated calls used for political messages are protected free speech.
But the state Supreme Court said that "the law applies to all autodialer calls, not just consumer transaction calls with commercial messages."
From MSNBC.com, Court says state can sue over political calls, December 24, 2008. Attorney General Carter can be reached, via his office, at: (317) 232-6330.
CATS Comment: Too bad our California Attorney General, Jerry "moonbeam" Brown, doesn't enforce the law like Mr. Carter does. Our illustrious California Attorney General is more concerned with Gay Marriage than the privacy of thousands of California residents.
But don't worry, Jerry Brown will be running for Governor soon. We, here at CATS, wonder if Jerry runs, will he send thousands of illegal robo calls to California voters. Want to take a guess on this one?
December 21, 2008
"Our cross border efforts have succeeded in bringing the last individual involved in a scam that defrauded many consumers to justice.
"The severity of these sentences should serve as a warning that deceptive telemarketing is treated seriously on both sides of the border.
Andrea Rosen, Deputy Commissioner of Canada's Competition Bureau commenting about Lloyd Prudenza, the last of three Canadians convicted in a cross-border telemarketing fraud, being sentenced to 15 years in jail by a U.S. court.
The Competition Bureau is an independent Canadian agency that contributes to the prosperity of Canadians by protecting and promoting competitive markets and enabling informed consumer choice. Canada's Competition Bureau has similar duties that the Federal Trade Commission has in the United States.
David Dalglish and Leslie Anderson, both of Toronto, were handed lengthy federal prison terms earlier in July and ordered to repay nearly $5.6 million of the $8 million the U.S. government says a telemarketing scheme raked in from 40,000 Americans.
Anderson was sentenced to 23 years and four months in prison after being was convicted of a conspiracy count and 23 fraud charges. Dalglish, who pleaded guilty in February to similar charges, was sentenced to 19 years and seven months in prison.
The three used the name First Capital Consumers Group in targeting U.S. residents with blemished or no credit, promising them by unsolicited telephone calls a MasterCard or Visa credit card for an advance fee of $189 to $219.
Consumers who let First Capital electronically take the fees from their accounts got no credit cards in return. Prosecutors say they received only advertising-stuffed packages or stored-value cards requiring them to deposit money to use.
Prudenza was given a more lenient sentence due to health problems, said the Competition Bureau, which led an investigation into the fraud that resulted in arrests in 2002.
From the Winnipeg Sun, 3rd Canadian in U.S. telemarketing fraud gets 15 years. December 18, 2008. Ms. Rosen can be reached, via her office, at: (819) 997-4282.
CATS Comment: You go girl! Right On!
We, here at CATS, suspect that these three will not be doing telemarketing calls for a long time!
For past quotes of the week click here.
December 14, 2008
"These victims were lulled by fraudulent telemarketers into a false sense of security to give up their confidential banking information."
Acting United States Attorney Laurie Magid commenting on the fact that Wachovia has begun to reimburse victims of a telemarketing fraud as part of its April settlement with U.S. banking regulators, mailing nearly 750, 000 checks totaling more than $150 million to the victims.
The case involves relationships the bank had with several telemarketers and payment processors that obtained bank-account information over the phone from thousands of elderly and poor consumers by offering to sell them identify-theft certificates, discount travel vouchers and other questionable products or services, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a division of the Treasury Department that regulates U.S. banks.
The OCC's central allegation against Wachovia was that some of the bank's officials knew about the deceptive telemarketing practices but failed to take quick action to resolve the problem. The regulator said Wachovia "profited from these activities in the form of fees collected from and balances maintained at the bank by the payment processors and telemarketers."
In addition to the checks, victims who believe they have been charged bank fees because of unauthorized withdrawals are entitled to compensation. Victims will receive a claim form for bank fees along with the checks.
From CNNMoney.com, Wachovia Sends $150 Million To Victims Of Telemarketing Fraud, December 11, 2008. Ms. Magid can be reached via her office, at: (215) 861-8200.
CATS Comment: Your bailout money hard at work!
December 7, 2008
"Weve really cleaned house. In order to work with us you dont only need to have certain skills, but you also have to be serious and prepared to continually develop. We have a responsibility to our customers, and therefore our witches go through an employment exam so that we can see that they really can do what they say they can."
Qinna Blomgren, who calls herself the "top witch" and is a part-owner of Haxriket, a telemarketing company based in Ahus, Sweden. The company is advertising its "witch hunt" to place five witches in each of its four locations.
Among the required skills: "contact the other side, runes, tarots, crystals, herbs, rituals, exorcism, meditation, personal coaching and more," as well as a telephone land-line and Internet connection.
Haxrikets massive hiring wave is the result of an internal shakeup in the company in which several formerly-employed witches had to be terminated for violating telemarketing ethics that were put into place in 1994 by Swedens Trade Ethical Council for Telemarketing.
Sweden's employment agency said it has reserved judgment on Haxriket's witch recruitment drive, saying requirements in the ad have "a lot to do with what each individual believes."
From Ice News, Iceland, Seeking unemployed witches in Sweden, December 7, 2008. Ms. Blomgren can be reached, via Hazriket, at: 0939-2000 234
CATS Comment: We, here at CATS, are speechless. You just cannot make up stories like this one.
November 30, 2008
"While the FCC is within its legal rights to raise the penalty, we don't see how this move will significantly increase revenues, or deter violators, because rarely does the Commission impose the full amount per violation. If the FCC did this it would put many firms out of business, which is not the Commission's intent. Instead its goal is to punish offenders so that they clean up their acts and behave responsibly"
Jerry Cerasale, Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Senior Vice President-Government Affairs commenting on the fact that the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission are raising penalties and have new rules that come into effect shortly.
The FCC raised the maximum per-violation fine for Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) violations to $16,000 from $11,000 as a cost of living adjustment. The change is in the agencys statutory authority. The TCPA was first passed in 1991 and the amount has not been boosted since.
Even so, this move, which came into effect with little notice in September 2008 along with other similar fine boosts, has been greeted with skepticism by the industry.
Joseph Sanscrainte, an attorney with Bryan Cave and an authority in telemarketing law and regulations believes the FCC move will have little effect in deterring violators.
From TMCNet.com, FCC, FTC Enact Telemarketing-Impacting Fines, Changes, Vendors Respond, November 28, 2008. Mr. Cerasale can be reached, via the DMA, at: (212) 768-7277.
CATS Comment: We agree with you on this one, Jerry. Unless the fines are realistic, no violator will be deterred. Currently the FCC and FTC do little to enforce the law. The fines that they issue are pennies on the dollar.
As far as we are concerned, here at CATS, they might as well close up shop. It would save the taxpayers a lot of money if they did. Want the law enforced? Allow a private right of action and let private industry do it. There are a lot of hungry lawyers out there. Put them to good use!
November 23, 2008
"If you go to the mall and a clerk asks you for your telephone number when you are paying, some retailers consider that permission to place telemarketing calls to you. This Office does not agree. Like other personal information such as your Social Security Number, you do not need to give out your telephone number to someone just because they ask for it.
"It is important the businesses actually making the calls and the businesses hiring those callers understand and comply with the robocall law. "We will continue to hold both the callers and the retailers accountable."
North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem commenting on the settlements his office entered into with seven different companies to address prerecorded telemarketing calls, or "robocalls" made to North Dakota residents. Each company has agreed to comply with North Dakota's Do Not Call law and made a payment in lieu of civil penalties.
SmartReply, Inc., dba VoiceBlast, of California paid $5,000 to settle a complaint against it. They paid $1,000 earlier in 2008 to address a different complaint. Voice & Mobile Broadcast Corporation, dba VMBC, of California paid $5,000 to resolve its investigation. Voice Marketing, Inc. of California paid $1,000. SmartReply, VMBC and Voice Marketing are in the business of making telemarketing calls on behalf of other business. The four other companies settling with the Attorney General were retailers: Payless Shoesource, Inc. of Kansas ($2,500), Tween Brands, Inc., dba Limited Too, of Ohio ($2,500) and The Talbots, Inc., of Massachusetts ($1,000) and E Marketing Services, Inc. ($1,000) of Florida.
From a press release on the North Dakota Attorney General's web site, Seven Companies Pay To Settle Robocall Complaints, November 17, 2008. Attorney General Stenehjem can be reached, via his office, at: (701) 328-2210.
CATS Comment: Wow... it seems that icons of American business are breaking the law again. Since the press release did not indicate the number of calls made, we here at CATS, wonder what the fine per call was.
With fines of only $1,000-$5,000 we suspect that it is cheaper to pay the fine, rather than comply with the law. We'll bet that the defendants would agree.
November 16, 2008
Midwest Publishing is prohibited from implying that its telemarketers are members of the charitable organization, rather than paid fundraisers, and from misrepresenting that donations will be used locally.
"We alleged that Midwest Publishing provided scripts and training that encouraged deception and abuse. We alleged that the rate of pay of their telemarketers was tied to the volume of donations, and that the solicitors freely misled Iowa donors. This concern was amplified by the fact that a majority of Midwests telemarketers were on parole or probation for various offenses, including drug offenses and theft-related crimes.
Tom Miller, Iowa Attorney General, commenting about the fact that Midwest Publishing-DN, Inc. -- a paid professional fundraising company based in Phoenix -- has been ordered to stop abusive and misleading practices in its fundraising calls and solicitations to Iowans.
Two principals of the operation also were named in the court injunction: president and owner John F. McCallum of Phoenix, AZ, and vice-president Stanislaw Burzynski of Woodbury, MN.
Midwest Publishing makes many thousands of telemarketing calls each year into Iowa on behalf of Operation Lookout, the Firefighters Charitable Foundation, and the Iowa Narcotics Officers Association. Solicitation calls to Iowa are made from a phone room in St. Paul, MN.
The court order was entered Friday, November 14, by Polk County District Court Judge Douglas F. Staskal. The Consent Judgment and order resolves a consumer fraud lawsuit also filed Friday by the Attorney Generals Office against Midwest Publishing, McCallum, and Burzynski.
Miller noted that although the callers stressed that donations would be put to good use, Midwest Publishing kept 85 cents of every dollar donated as compensation for its telemarketing services, and gave only 15 cents of each dollar to the charitable organizations.
Miller said that the Consumer Protection Division first learned last year that the company was engaged in deceptive fundraising practices in Iowa. After investigating further, Millers office prepared the lawsuit and presented it to the defendants, who agreed to an injunction and other terms to settle the impending lawsuit. Once the settlement terms were final, the AGs Consumer Protection Division filed the lawsuit and presented the consent judgment for court approval Friday.
In addition to the $30,000 the defendants must pay to the State, the judgment provided that a further payment of $100,000 would come due if the defendants violate the Courts order in the next three years.
From a press release on the web site of the Iowa Attorney General, Professional Fundraiser Company Ordered Not to Make Deceptive Calls in Iowa, November 14, 2008. Attorney General Miller can be reached, via his office, at: (515) 281-5164.
CATS Comment: Go get 'em Tom! Too bad our California Attorney General, Jerry Brown (AKA Governor Moonbeam), takes no action against fraudulent telemarketers. Are you interested in moving to the Golden State? We sure could us you here!
November 9, 2008
"This is a business matter that my son Cory is working through with his attorney. I have no involvement in his company."
U.S. Representative C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md commenting about his son, Cory Ruppersberger, who is accused of using a call center in Gujarat, India, to make 500,000 illegal mortgage solicitations by phone between 2005 and 2007 to consumers in 36 Pennsylvania counties who were listed on the state's Do Not Call registry.
Tom Corbett, the Pennsylvania Attorney General is seeking $500 million in civil penalties for violations of the state's Consumer Protection Law; the Telemarketer Registration Act; the Mortgage Bankers and Brokers and Consumer Equity Protection Act; the Secondary Mortgage Loan Act; and the Fictitious Names Act.
Corbett called Cory's actions the most extensive campaign of telemarketing calls to consumers on the Do Not Call list ever investigated by his office. Cory's calls invaded the homes of thousands of Pennsylvania residents with unsolicited and unwanted phone calls, marketing mortgage loans that they were not licensed to sell.
From LeagalNewsline.com, Corbett rebounds, takes down Morganelli in Pa. AG race, November 4, 2008. Representative Ruppersberger can be reached, via his office, at: (202) 225-3061.
CATS Comment: This is proof that people in the United States have the best government money can buy.
November 2, 2008
"The ATA Political Action Committee (PAC) is thriving as a meaningful force in the effort to protect member interests. And beyond Washington, ATAs grassroots action network extends to statehouses across the country. The ATAs state legislative team has successfully organized efforts against unreasonable privacy legislation such as do not call lists, disclosure requirements, and technology bans."
From the American Teleservices Association's (ATA) 2008 resource guide, page 2, author unknown. You can download a copy from their web site by clicking here.
CATS Comment: Hold the phone. Time after time, the telemarketing industry media magazines have claimed that the do not call list is good for business, weeding out prospects that would not buy the product(s) offered and just wastes the telemarketer's time.
The do not call list has more that 140 million subscribers, more than all the people who voted for President in the last election. It has been one of the rare success stories in the regulation of marketing.
This is a law that the ATA calls "unreasonable privacy legislation?"
We just have one request for the ATA: Can we have a wee bit of what you are smoking?
October 26, 2008
"If you are in business and hire offshore call centres to make telemarketing calls, you need to be extremely diligent in overseeing what they do. Ultimately the calls they make are your responsibility."
Chris Chapman, Chairman of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) commenting about his agency's record fine against a telemarketer, the largest fine so far, in Australia's history.
The ACMA hit telecommunications company Dodo Australia with a $147,400 penalty for disturbing people's peace.
It was only the second time a fine had been imposed since the Do Not Call Register was set up in May last year.
The register allows Australians to legally stop telemarketers calling - especially at night - after thousands of complaints were made.
ACMA investigated almost 29,000 complaints from those on the register who were still called but most were quickly resolved by offending companies.
It found Dodo Australia had made 67 unsolicited calls to homes on the register and was fined $2200 for each call.
From The Sydney Daily Telegraph, Record fine for telemarketer Dodo after disturbing peace, October 23, 2008. Mr. Chapman can be reached, via ACMA media relations, at: (02) 9334-7980.
CATS Comment: Good for you Chris. It seems that Australia is going through the same growing pains that the U.S. went through when it started the national do not call list. But, unlike the U.S., Australia took decisive action against a company that tried to skirt the law by going offshore.
And unlike the United States and its Federal Trade Commission, which settles telemarketing violations for pennies on the dollar per call violation, ACMA fined telemarketing company Dodo communications $2,200 (about $1,361 U.S. dollars) per call.
We, here at CATS, would like to offer a simple tag line to the ACMA, to help it in enforcement of Australia's new do not call law, so here goes: You'd better not blunder, calling the land down under.
Simply put, Australia gets it.
October 19, 2008
"We now have the ability to create telemarketing scripts at same time we create offers, testing strategies and alternative offers for our client at the beginning of creative process. Now, we're able to make changes on the fly as opposed to rerecording and reprogramming."
Ron Perlstein, president of Infoworx, a marketing company located in Heber City, Utah.
Perlstein said this service will also save advertisers around 20% on their cost-per-minute as opposed to using a separate interactive voice response (IVR) company. The first client using the telemarketing service is BestLine International Research for its E-Z Par golf club cleaner.
From DM News, InfoWorx adds in-house telemarketing, October 17, 2008. Mr. Perlstein can be reached at: (801) 649-4942.
CATS Comment: Wow...Another telemarketing company is competeing for our collective ears. Infoworx may be making telemarketing calls to our homes, but a request for their written "Do-Not-Call policy was cheerfully ignored.
Did you expect any less from a telemarketer?
October 12, 2008
"We regret the situation occurred and we're glad to have the situation resolved."
Christy Phillips-Brown, a spokeswoman for Charlotte, North Carolina-based Wachovia bank commenting about a court settlement where Wachovia agreed to pay $200 million to resolve lawsuits claiming it profited by ignoring fraudulent telemarketers who used the bank to help them steal from consumers.
Victims of the telemarketing frauds sued in federal court in Philadelphia in 2007, claiming that Wachovia, which is being bought by Wells Fargo & Co., knew of claims the telemarketers were using ``demand drafts,'' or unsigned checks, to steal from their victims.
The suits were filed on behalf of all people in the U.S. who lost money to the telemarketers from June 2003 to February 2006. The settlement, which must be approved by the court before it can take effect, will reimburse $163 million they allegedly lost to the fraud, plus bank fees.
The telemarketer fraud suit claimed that unscrupulous telemarketers called consumers, many of them elderly, offering worthless products, including phony coupons, gift certificates and information about government grants.
The telemarketers then persuaded the consumers to disclose information about their bank accounts, which the telemarketers used to make fraudulent charges, through payment processors that had accounts at Wachovia, according to the complaint. The payment processors generated demand drafts with a notice stating ``authorized by drawer'' in place of a signature.
The victims claimed Wachovia failed to close the accounts because it was profiting from fees imposed when many of the consumers discovered the charges and rejected the transactions.
Reimbursement checks will be sent directly to the victims, according to court papers. Most similar class-action settlements require claimants to fill out and mail forms or follow other procedures that may reduce participation to 10 percent, the consumers said in court papers. Victims can also make claims to reimburse any bank fees.
The case is Faloney v. Wachovia Bank, 07-CV-1455, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).
From Bloomberg.com, Wachovia Will Pay $200 Million to Settle Telemarketing Suits, October 11, 2008. Ms. Christy Phillips-Brown can be reached at: (704) 383-8178.
CATS Comment: Your apology is touching Ms. Brown. We, here at CATS, think your victims, especially your elderly victims, deserve a little more.
October 5, 2008
"It's way beyond anything we'd expected. On the telephone side, more than one million people tried to access the system. It's clearly over any estimation we had done."
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission spokesperson Denis Carmel commenting some of the problems that happened on the first day of operation of Canada's national Do-Not-Call List.
So many people were trying to sign up their phone numbers Tuesday on the first day of registration for the federal do-not-call list, the Webster crashed at one point and the phone lines were busy.
The popularity of the list, whose registration went live Tuesday just after midnight, was not unexpected.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has projected that of Canada's 27 million residential phone lines, which include cellphone numbers, 16 million would be on the do-not-call list within two years.
Bell Canada, which is responsible for operating the list, worked to get the website back up, but offered projection as to when that would be.
By Tuesday night, however, the site was again accepting registrations.
The CRTC said on its website that once people have registered, telemarketers have up to 31 days to update their lists and to make sure they do not call you, meaning people could still receive calls within 31 days of registering.
Telemarketers will face fines up to $15,000, however, if they call once the list is operational.
People can register their phone numbers in two ways. They can sign up on-line at LNNTE-DNCL.gc.ca or call the toll-free numbers 1-866-580-3625 or 1-888-362-5889 (for the hearing impaired).
From CBCnews.ca, Website, phones jammed on Day 1 of do-not-call list registration, September 30, 2008. Mr. Carmel can be contacted via the CRTC at (819) 997-0313
CATS Comment: It's about time that Canadians can have their homes free of telemarketing. We, here at CATS, wish all Canadians good luck with their new law. Perhaps Canada will do a better job than the U.S. does when it comes to enforcement.
September 28, 2008
"The defendants preyed upon the elderly in the United States from what they believed to be the safety of a boiler room in Israel. Cooperation between law enforcement and prosecutors' offices here and in Israel has made clear that borders provide no safe haven for such fraudulent schemes."
Michael J. Garcia. United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York commenting about the arrest of several Israeli Nationals who allegedly ran a telemarketing scheme that bilked nearly $2 million from elderly victims in the United States between 2007 and September 2008.
This case involves the largest number of Israeli citizens ever to be provisionally arrested by Israel in anticipation of extradition.
According to the indictments filed in this case in Manhattan federal court, the defendants participated in a fraudulent scheme in which hundreds of elderly victims in the United States were informed that they had won substantial cash prizes in an international sweepstakes lottery, but that to claim these prizes, they first needed to pay several thousand dollars in fees. In fact, there was no sweepstakes lottery and the victims never received any cash prize, even after many victims sent as much as tens of thousands of dollars to the defendants and their co-conspirators in Israel.
As part of this scheme, the defendants operated a "boiler room" in Israel. Salespeople in the boiler room were calling individuals in the United States and informing them that they had won substantial cash prizes in an international sweepstakes lottery. These salespeople asked victims certain questions about their citizenship, age and financial condition. If a salesperson deemed a victim to have sufficient assets, the salesperson transferred that victim to one of the managers. Once a victim was transferred, he or she was informed by the managers that to obtain the prize, one first had to pay several thousand dollars in fees and taxes. The victim was then instructed to send the money to the co-conspirators in Israel by wire transfer or by mail, and was provided with toll free "1-800" numbers at which the managers could be contacted to confirm that the money had been sent. Victims who had already sent money were often contacted again by the managers to send additional money to claim their prizes.
From the Wall Street Journal MarketWatch web site, Israel-Based Defendants Indicted and Arrested in Lottery Telemarketing Fraud Targeting U.S. Citizens, September 26, 2008. US Attorney Michael J. Garcia can be reached via the US Attorney's office at: (212) 637-2600.
CATS Comment: Good for you Michael! Nice work! Something was definitely not kosher with this scheme.
September 21, 2008
"Become an Auditor for the ATA-SRO (American Teleservices Assocation - Self-Regulating Organization)!
"This program enables people to participate in an extensive three day training class designed to review the ATA Standards, the audit process, and the accreditation process for contact centers.
"For Compliance Officers, Government Affairs Officers, and corporate counsel, this training program is a must!"
From the American Teleservices Association web site. It seems that the ATA has now hooked up with the University of Akron to teach a course in telemarketer compliance.
If you register take the course you will receive Auditor Certification Training materials prior to the class. These include, but are not limited to:
The Telemarketing Sales Rule
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act
The ATA Self Regulatory Standards
The following information will be included in the training curriculum:
ATA Guidelines and Standards
The applicability of the ATA Standards to business practices
Potential grey areas regarding regulation and auditing
Current statutes and regulations
Relevant enforcement actions and related outcomes
Auditing methodologies and procedures
Samples of completed audits
From the ATA web site, author and creation date unknown. The ATA can be reached, toll free, at: (866) 500-4272/
CATS Comment: Hang on a second. The ATA was the organization that fought the National Do Not Cal list all the way to the Supreme Court! Now they are pushing compliance with telemarketing regulations?
Did they finally have a change of heart?
There is a subtile reason that the ATA now pushes compliance with the law - MONEY - for the ATA!
A review of their web site reveals that the above mentioned Auditor 3-day course (administered by the ATA) costs $2,500. And the Auditor certification exam costs another $2,500 as well!
That's a cool $5,000 for a 3-day class.
Is it worth it? You decide.
September 14, 2008
"It's the next logical step. People were starting to get telemarketing calls on their cell phones.
Not everybody gets (telemarketing) cell phone calls right now. But they will."
Wisconsin State Senator Jon Erpenbach, (D-Middleton), commenting about new state law that adds cell phones to the Wisconsin State Do Not Call list.
He introduced earlier legislation that failed to pass the state Assembly. He said the law makes sense.
The new Wisconsin do-not-call list for cell phones will take effect Oct. 1 with a long list of new subscribers. It will make it illegal for telemarketers to call people who have signed up.
A total of 280,954 cell phone users signed up. There are now 1.4 million numbers on people Wisconsin's no-call list, which also includes landlines.
Cell phones were added to the list after a change in state law that was part of a budget repair bill signed by Gov. Jim Doyle in May.
From the Appleton Post-Crescent, Mobile no-call list a hit in state Easy registration an incentive for 281,000 to sign up, September 13, 2008. Senator Erpenbach can be reached at: (608) 266-6670.
CATS Comment: Persistence pays off. All you have to do is keep trying. Your persistence, Jon, paid off when the law was finally passed!
Come to think of it, the telemarketers do the same thing when they call us multiple times offering the same product.
Its about time that they had a taste of their own medicine.
September 7, 2008
"We need to protect members of the public and charities from illegal fundraising practices and particularly deceptive acts and practices used to raise funds for purported veterans, police, firefighters and law enforcement charities."
Supervising Hawaii Deputy Attorney General of the Tax Division, Department of the Attorney General, Hugh Jones commenting on the fact that charity telemarketers working for MJ888M Productions Inc. had criminal records for offenses such as theft and burglary.
Hawaii State law bars charitable fundraisers from hiring convicted felons to solicit money from local residents.
Oddly enough, the sales pitches were meant to appeal to donors' sense of law and order.
"We're going on a manhunt by publishing Hawaii's Most Wanted Magazine," read the scripts provided for the telemarketers. "It contains information about our local law enforcement agencies, crime prevention articles, safety tips and pictures and profiles of wanted fugitives."
But potential donors had no way of knowing that the telephone solicitors they were talking to were convicted felons themselves!
On Friday, Attorney General Mark Bennett suspended MJ888M Production's registration as a professional solicitor for 90 days and fined the company $12,100, saying it violated the state's charitable solicitation law 16 times.
As for the Most Wanted organization, telemarketers working for MJ888M Productions collected about $177,227 on behalf of the company. Of that, Most Wanted received a net of $35,445, or about 20 percent, state records show.
By contrast, local charities receive an average of about 50 percent of all money collected by telemarketing companies, according to a 2007 study by The Advertiser. Under its contract with Most Wanted, MJ88M Productions is required to pay for printing and production costs of the magazine, she said. The contract also calls for MJ888M Productions to provide 20 percent of the gross collections to Most Wanted,
From the Honolulu Advertiser, Hawaii charity telemarketer in trouble for giving ex-cons a job, September 3, 2008. Mr. Jones can be reached, via the Hawaii Attorney General's office, at: (808) 586-1500.
CATS Comment: Just what we need: ex-cons calling our homes to sell us a law enforcement magazine.
There used to be a telephone company here in California called Continental Telephone. They were bought out by GTE. When they were in business they were affectionally called ConTel.
Seems like Hawaii has given the name ConTel a whole new meaning!
August 31, 2008
"No-call is the most popular consumer protection program ever in this state, We are happy to be adding cell phones to the list."
Rod Nilsestuen, secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection for the State of Wisconsin, commenting about a new state law, that aims to give cellular users relief from a growing volume of telemarketing calls.
People have until the end of Sunday to get on the first version of the list, which will launch in October. Telemarketers will be banned from calling people who have signed up.
There are already 1.1 million Wisconsin residents on the existing no-call list for landlines. The cell phone no-call list was made law as part of a budget repair bill signed by Gov. Jim Doyle in May.
From the Madison, Wisconsin Post Crescent, Last call nears for state's cell phone no-call list. Sunday is the deadline to get on list that blocks telemarketers, August 30, 2008. Mr. Nilsestuen can be reached, via his office, at: (608) 224-5012.
CATS Comment: Here we go again! As the Federal Government fails to enforce the do not call laws and issues meaningless fines for violations, telemarketers will again bother us both at home, and on our wireless phones as well.
As a result, just like before, the states will pass laws to restrict telemarketers. And just like before, organizations like the American Teleservices Association (formerly the American Telemarketing Association) will claim that the government is "over regulating" them.
Of course, if they obeyed the laws, there would be no need for such "over regulation".
In telemarketing, as in life, how you make your bed is how you sleep in it. With the proliferation of more state laws regulating telemarketing, we here at CATS suspect that the folks at the American Teleservices Association are not sleeping well these days.
August 24, 2008
"Callers did not think they were bound by the Do Not Call list, and now they are."
Mark Cooper, director of research for the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) commenting about the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) banning phone calls of prerecorded sales messages unless consumers agree to receive the calls.
The Federal Trade Commission also announced that by December all prerecorded calls must provide an opt-out selection to make it easy for consumers to stop getting those calls. Effective Sept. 1, 2009, sellers and telemarketers may place prerecorded calls only to consumers who have provided signed and written agreements to receive them.
The FTC said the rules will not affect informational prerecorded messages, such as messages to notify consumers of appointments and cancellations, because they do not attempt to sell goods or services.
A report by the FTC this week said there were more than 13,000 consumers comments that objected to the telemarketing industry's request to gain more flexibility to make recorded sales calls.
The agency says the new rules will protect consumers' privacy, much like the Do Not Call Registry. The registry, initiated in 2003, has been widely acclaimed for allowing Americans to eat their dinners without being interrupted by telephone sales pitches. More than 150 million people have listed their phones on the registry, which prohibits calls from telemarketers, with some exceptions.
From the Associated Press, FTC to ban prerecorded sales messages, August 20, 2008. Mr. Cooper can be reached at: (301) 384-2204.
CATS Comment: While we agree with the CFA that the rule changes will help consumers, we here at CATS, are concerned about the lack of serious enforcement of those rules.
Case in point: The FTC released, with much fanfare, their new Telemarketing Sales Rule where the Commission adopted an amendment making explicit a prohibition on prerecorded telemarketing calls without a consumer's express written agreement to receive such calls.
On page 6 of the report (listed in the Federal Register) is this little gem:
FTC v. Voice-Mail Broad. Corp., No. 2:08-cv-00521 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 8, 2008) ($3 million civil penalty, with all but $180,000 suspended due to inability to pay, for abandoning over 46 million calls, 11 million of which were directed to numbers on the Do Not Call Registry, and providing no opt-out option to consumers who answered)
So let's do the math. $180,000 fine, divided by 46,000,000 illegal calls, generates a fine of .391 cents per call.
In other words, for every illegal call that Voice Mail Broadcasting Corporation made to American Consumers, the fine was a whopping four tenths of a cent.
Where was the Consumer Federation Of America on that one?
For a copy of that report, click here.
August 17, 2008
"As the economy and housing markets change in Pennsylvania and around the country, some mortgage companies are using aggressive new tactics to solicit customers. Today's consumer protection lawsuits are an important step to protect consumers from illegal conduct and send a clear message that lending companies must obey the law.
"This is the most extensive campaign of telemarketing calls to consumers on the Do Not Call list ever investigated by my office. Using an international call center, they invaded the homes of thousands of Pennsylvania residents with unsolicited and unwanted phone calls, marketing mortgage loans that they were not licensed to sell."
Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett commenting on the consumer protection lawsuits filed by his office against two business owners and their companies, who are accused of violating Pennsylvania's "Do Not Call" law and other consumer protection statutes. The companies, based in Baltimore, Maryland, and State College, Pennsylvania, are accused of using illegal telephone solicitations to aggressively market mortgage products to consumers - including what Corbett alleges is the largest-ever systematic effort to violate the Do Not Call program since it was created in 2002.
According to the lawsuit, Ruppersberger and his company violated Pennsylvania's Consumer Protection Law; the Telemarketer Registration Act; the Mortgage Bankers and Brokers and Consumer Equity Protection Act; the Secondary Mortgage Loan Act; and the Fictitious Names Act.
The lawsuit seeks full restitution for any consumer who suffered losses as the result of actions that violated the Consumer Protection Law, along with civil penalties of up to $1,000 for each violation (up to $3,000 for violations involving seniors). Additionally, the lawsuit asks the court to prevent Ruppersberger or his company from any further telemarketing in Pennsylvania until any court-ordered fines and costs are paid.
From a press by the Pennsylvania Attorney General, Attorney General Corbett announces lawsuits against MD & PA mortgage businesses; more than 500,000 calls to consumers on "Do Not Call" list, August 12, 2008. Attorney General Corbett can be reached, via his office, at: (717) 787-3391.
CATS Comment: You rock Tom! Go after these scammers and get 'em. We, here at CATS, support what you do. Too bad our Attorney General, Jerry Brown, takes little action against these rouge telemarketers.
August 10, 2008
"Giving a phone book to the boiler room group and letting them call you during dinner, that's not good marketing, We're a little disappointed that it took so long for the sentiment from the public to translate into the government"
Koray Parmaks, V.P. of Telemarketing for Telax Hosted Call Centre commenting about the Canadian Government's pending "Do Not Call" list.
As of September 30th, Canadians will be able to register their number on a "Do Not Call" list similar to ones that have been made available in the United States for roughly half a decade.
Numbers can be registered free of charge, though it'll take about 31 days before the sweet sound of silence can be assured.
The prohibitions will have exceptions, including charities, political parties, pollsters and established business relationships. Bell Canada will operate it on a five-year contract, and is responsible for investigating complaints.
From www.citynews.ca (news service for Toronto, Canada, Do Not Call' List Available In Canada Come Fall, July 30, 2008. Mr. Parmaks can be contacted, via Telex Hosted Call Centre, toll free, at (888) 808-3529.
CATS Comment: One of the signs of a civilized society is the implementation of a do not call list to protect the privacy of its citizens.
We here at CATS applaud Canada for implementing this action. It is long overdue.
August 3, 2008
"These sentences send a clear warning to deceptive telemarketers everywhere that there is no such thing as a safe haven for fraud, Law enforcement is working together on all fronts and across all borders to bring them to justice."
Andrea Rosen, Acting Deputy Commissioner of Competition, for the Canadian Competition Bureau, commenting about three Canadians who operated a deceptive telemarketing scheme based in Toronto, which purported to offer credit cards to Americans for a fee but never delivered the cards. They have been found guilty. Two of the three have been sentenced to a combined 42 years in prison by the U.S. Federal Court in the Southern District of Illinois. This is the first time a Competition Bureau investigation has resulted in extradition.
The Competition Bureau is an independent agency that contributes to the prosperity of Canadians by protecting and promoting competitive markets and enabling informed consumer choice. It is similar to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States.
Lloyd Prudenza and David Dalglish pleaded guilty, while Leslie Anderson was found guilty on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud. Dalglish was sentenced to 19 years and seven months in prison, and Anderson was sentenced to 23 years and four months in prison. Both Dalglish and Anderson were also sentenced to five years of mandatory supervision on release, and were ordered to pay over $5 million U.S. in restitution. Prudenza's sentencing has been delayed to Oct. 1, 2008.
Prudenza, Dalglish and Anderson were the principal operators behind First Capital Consumers Group, which defrauded close to 40,000 American consumers who had poor credit histories. Working out of boiler rooms in Toronto in 2001-2002, telemarketers targeted U.S. residents, claiming they had been approved for a MasterCard or Visa credit card. The victims were required to pay a one-time processing fee (approximately $200 U.S.) prior to receiving one or both cards, but never received a valid credit card. This deceptive telemarketing operation generated approximately $8 million U.S.
Prudenza, Dalglish and Anderson were originally arrested in 2002, following an investigation led by the Competition Bureau. They were charged with offences under the Competition Act and the Criminal Code. The charges included: deceptive telemarketing; conspiracy to commit an indictable offence; fraud, and possession of property obtained by crime. The U.S. Department of Justice made a formal request in 2003 to the Canadian Minister of Justice for the extradition of the accused to stand trial in the United States. In 2007, after exhausting all levels of appeal, Prudenza, Dalglish and Anderson were extradited to the U.S.
From a press release by the Canadian Competition Bureau, Canadian Scammers Extradited to the U.S. Receive Lengthy Prison Sentences, July 30, 2008. Ms. Rosen can be reached via her office, at: (819) 997-4282.
CATS Comment: Good for you, Ms. Rosen, we salute you! With the introduction of technologies like voice over .I.P. telemarketing is now an international crime. Thanks for taking the time to put these criminals behind bars. You ROCK!
July 27, 2008
"Telemarketers are using increasingly sophisticated methods, such as illegal autodialing, to harass our customers. Whatever the method, these unlawful telemarketing calls are an annoyance to our customers and invade their privacy, and we will continue to use every weapon in our legal arsenal to stop this activity and protect our customers."
Steven E. Zipperstein, vice president and general counsel of Verizon Wireless, commenting about Verizon Wireless's filing of a lawsuit to stop unknown telemarketers from calling its customers and employees with an offer of an extended car warranty. The lawsuit, filed in New Jersey Superior Court, alleges the telemarketers illegally used an autodialer to reach Verizon Wireless customers and used "spoofing" techniques to mask the origin of the calls.
The lawsuit alleges that Caller ID showed calls were made from a variety of numbers with 281, 614, 801, and 562 area codes. But, when Verizon Wireless customers and employees attempted to call the numbers found on Caller ID, they generally heard a fast busy signal, indicating a non-working number.
In the lawsuit, Verizon Wireless says that, beginning in January 2008, more than 2 million of its customers and employees received calls on their wireless telephones with a pre-recorded voice message indicating that the recipient's car warranty was about to expire, and encouraging them to press "1" for more information. When a recipient presses "1", he or she is connected to a person who asks for the make and model of the car. However, if the recipient asks for information about the company offering the policy, the representative simply hangs up and ends the call. The lawsuit alleges violations of the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which makes it illegal to use an autodialer to make calls to wireless phones, as well as state fraud and privacy laws. By filing the lawsuit, Verizon Wireless will be able to use the discovery process to help identify the currently unknown telemarketers, and to get them to halt their practices.
From a Verizon Wireless press release via PR Newswire, Verizon Wireless Files Lawsuit to Stop Telemarketers Offering Extended Automobile Warranties, March 26, 2008. Mr. Zipperstein can be reached via Verizon Wireless' media relations person, Debra Lewis at: (908) 559-7512.
CATS Comment: Verizon Wireless has a commendable record of protecting customer privacy. Over the past several years, Verizon Wireless has won permanent injunctions against individuals and companies that have engaged in illegal telemarketing and text message spamming to Verizon Wireless customers, and against those who have attempted to obtain information about Verizon Wireless customers to sell to third parties.
Zipperstein, YOU ROCK! Keep up the good work.
July 20, 2008
"Telemarketing seems to have spiraled a long way downward from its warm, fuzzy origins. At one time telemarketing was aspiring to be the marketing media monarch. Now it's an ancillary, victim of both prejudice and abuse.
"The days of starting a call by self-identification, or even with the boilerplate 'How are you today?' or 'This is not a sales call' or 'You've been invited to participate in a survey' have given way, far too often, to an imperious and semi-literate demand: I wanna talk wid Lewis.
"OK, Lewis here, and I don't wanna talk wid you&ldots;not unless you offer some equivalence in the proposed conversation, without the sonic bleed-over of others making boilerplate calls from their poorly sectioned boiler room."
Herschell Gordon Lewis skewers the foibles of direct marketing copy each month as Direct Magazine's Curmudgeon at Large. He is the principal of Lewis Enterprises and the author of 28 books, including "Asinine Advertising," "Marketing Mayhem" and "On the Art of Writing.
From Direct Magazine, Nope, Don't Wanna Talk Wid You, July 1, 2008. Mr. Lewis can be reached at: (954) 782-1750.
CATS Comment: As usual, Herschell produces a wonderful article on the evils of telemarketing. Although we list his phone number on our web site, it is posted on Herschell's web site as well.
We here at CATS suspect that Herschell doesn't want to talk wid us either!
Great article Herschell! In the marketing world--You ROCK!
July 13, 2008
"Although compliance with the National Registry has been high, the FTC actively investigates and prosecutes violators. National Registry enforcement protects the success of the National Registry in safeguarding consumer privacy. The FTC also works with its enforcement partners at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the FCC, and the states to enforce the National Registry rules.
"Violating the National Registry subjects telemarketers to civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation. Civil penalty actions are filed by the DOJ on behalf of the FTC. Some violators of the National Registry also engage in fraud or other law violations. In these fraud cases, the Commission seeks equitable relief in federal court, such as injunctions against future violations, consumer redress, and disgorgement of profits.
"As of September 30, 2007, the FTC had filed 25 cases alleging violations of the National Registry and had reached settlements in 22 of these cases, obtaining injunctive relief in all 22 cases. In 13 of the resolved cases, defendants paid civil penalties totaling more than $8.7 million. In the remaining resolved cases, defendants paid redress and/or disgorgement for other violations, totaling more than $8.4 million."
From the Annual Report to Congress for FY 2007 by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), author unknown. A copy of the report can be downloaded by clicking here. The FTC Office of Public Affairs can be reached at: (202) 326-2180.
CATS Comment: Figures lie and liars figure. While we commend the FTC for publishing the report, there has never been one telemarketer that has paid a fine of $11,000.00 per violation.
The fact of the matter is that the FTC often settles for pennies on the dollar, or more accurately, fractions of pennies on the dollar. While Corporate America has, for the most part, stopped calling people at home, many unscrupulous business persons still continue to do so, and even if they are caught, they most likely will pay a minimum fine in order to settle the case.
Is it any wonder that we, here at CATS, get more and more reports that rouge telemarketers (who often fail to identify themselves) call people constantly?
Simply put, enforcement works!
Congress should resolve the problem by allowing private citizens a private right of action for violations. Then you and I could sue the violators and get some satisfaction. From our experience, here at CATS, that usually works.
Simply put, if the Government can't protect us from unwanted telephone solicitations, then give private citizens the tools to enforce the law themselves.
July 6, 2008
"It was a fluke, but telemarketers are responsible for my career. When the phone rang I jumped up hoping it was a client, but nine of ten times it was a telemarketer."
Tom Mabe, the Louisville, KY comedian whose six-episode "Mabe in America" makes its debut on July 4, 2008 Country Music Television (CMT) cable.
So Tom started recording the callers with a little routine of his own. When the telemarketer called him by name and said he had been selected to receive something for free, Mabe would pretend to be a police detective at the scene of Mabe's murder. The routine goes something like this:
"Let me ask you something. Did you know Tom Mabe? Was he a friend of yours? What's the nature of the business you had with Tom Mabe. (The telemarketer tries to hang up.) "Hang on, this call has already been traced and we may need you to come in for further questioning."
That bit propelled him into a recording deal, a crusade against such calls and the national spotlight.
If you miss the 10:30 p.m. premiere on July 4th you can see "Mabe in America" 16 other times on the CMT schedule before the second episode next Friday. The schedule is posted on www.tommabe.com as well.
From the Louisville Courier-Journal's web site, Making fun of telemarketers is comic Mabe's calling, July 3, 2008. Mr. Mabe can be reached, via e-mail, at: TomMabe3@aol.com.
June 29, 2008
"Even the most sophisticated firms have compliance issues. Constant vigilance to know the requirements and ongoing diligence to verify that your firm meets those requirements is crucial in avoiding potential mistakes.
Tim Searcy, CEO of the American Teleservices Association (ATA), commenting about complying with telemarketing regulations.
The article goes on with various methods and strategies to comply with the various laws that regulate the telemarketing industry.
From TMCnet.com's (formerly telemarketing magazine) web site, Tips on Regulatory Compliance, June 28, 2008. Mr. Searcy can be reached, toll free at: (866) 500-4272 x103.
CATS Comment: OK, let's say that the ATA really wants compliance from its members. Then the ATA should know and tell its members about the regulation that every telemarketer must have a written "Do-Not-Call" policy that is "available upon demand."
So here's our challenge to you, Mr. Searcy. Tell us what a "Do-Not-Call" policy must contain, at the very minimum, according to the FCC. We bet you don't even know. Prove us wrong. Send the information to us.
We shall be waiting.
CATS Note: We left a message on Searcy's voice mail, and send a certified e-mail to the ATA asking the same question. So far, no response has been received.
June 22, 2008
"Recently, Wanda June got a telemarketing call from a representative who wanted to sell her a new casket. The saleswoman said she could give her a better deal than the local funeral homes. Wanda June is always up for a good bargain, but she passed on that one. It just didnt seem right.
"Telemarketing is a great form of advertising. So are signs out front of small restaurants and sidewalk markets that let people see what they can expect inside. But &ldots; sometimes its just too much information"
Beth Beggs, a writer for the Graham (Texas) Leader, commenting about various kinds of advertising she has recently been exposed to.
Ms. Beggs goes on to say that commercials are so ingrained into our lifestyles that we actually trust companies who advertise more. She goes on to suggest that when traveling out of town, were more likely to buy a burger in a name-brand squat-and-gobble restaurant than we are the joint on the corner.
From The Graham Leader Online, Beth Beggs - Too much truth in advertising, June 20, 2008. Ms. Beggs can be reached, via the Graham Leader, at: 940-549-7800.
CATS Comment: Hold the phone Ms. Beggs. Telemarketing is a great form of advertising? If that is so, then why did over 150 million Americans put their numbers on the National Do-Not-Call List?
Unlike signs on stores, telemarketing uses your property (your phone that you pay for), intrudes into your home at their convenience (not yours), fails to respect your privacy, and is the most intrusive form of marketing.
Telemarketing as a great form of advertising? We, here at CATS have to disagree with you on that one, however we do have one small request.
Could we have a small sample of what you were smoking when you wrote that? After all, we are from California.
June 15, 2008
"This is something the people wanted done, and it's one of the number one complaints we get as far as trying to stop these calls from coming in at these unwanted times, from these unwanted callers."
Lynn Posey, Mississippi Central District Commissioner, Mississippi Central District Public Service Commissioner and is also Vice-Chairman of the Commission commenting on a new, tougher telemarketing law in Mississippi.
With the passage of the No-Call Law reform this week, telemarketers must now register every telephone number they plan to use for telemarketing.
Businesses who use telemarketing will no longer be able to block their number from your caller ID. They also must sign an affidavit pledging under oath not to block their phone numbers
From WTOK's (Channel 11, Meridian Mississippi) web site, New Law Seeks to Protect Consumers, June 11, 2008. Commissioner Posey can be reached, at his office, at: (601) 961-5430.
CATS Comment: Way to go, Commish! Let's hope that you vigorously enforce the new law. Oddly enough, the number one complaint that we, here at CATS, receive is failure of telemarketers to send a valid ID as well. Go get 'em!
June 8, 2008
"This is the first addition to Wisconsins Do Not Call law since its enactment in January 1, 2003. Including cellular phones is a significant improvement to this popular public consumer service. In addition, the increase of the maximum fines will allow for better prosecution of violators. Finally, codifying federal and state rule to allow people to verbally tell any telemarketers, even those exempt from the list, to not call them again is another big consumer benefit.
"I wanted businesses to be able to have the option to be on the Do Not Call list. I heard that it was important to them, but in the end it was what was holding up the bill. Having the ability for all types of phones to be able to sign up for the Do Not Call list is a huge deal and I am very hopeful that the Assembly will take swift action to schedule SB 99 for the floor since an additional public hearing is not necessary,"
Wisconsin State Senator, Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) commenting on Wisconsin Senate bill 99 which would add cell phone numbers to the State's "Do-Not-Call" list.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection estimates that there are now 2 cell phones for every residential land line in Wisconsin. The update he has authored would allow people to put their cell phone numbers on the Wisconsin Do Not Call List. The only option Wisconsin residents currently have is to put their cell phone numbers on the federal No Call List, which is substantially weaker than Wisconsins law. This bill would also allow small businesses, who are increasingly subjected to telemarketing calls, to add their numbers to the list as well.
From a press release on Erpenbach's web site, Cellular Phones on No Call List Passes State Senate, Erpenbach Bill Adds Cellular Phones, Increases Penalties, Businesses Out in Compromise, February 19, 2008. Erpenbach can be reached, via his office, at: (608)266-6670,
CATS Comment: If Erpenbach is the sheriff in Wisconsin, then telemarketers better not call a 'cheesehead.' You rock, Jon! Go get 'em!
June 1, 2008
"They totally took advantage of her. We had to sit my mom down and tell her you can't tell the good guys from the bad guys anymore. We had to take away her checking account and credit card. We felt like we were robbing her of some of her dignity and humanity, but we also needed to protect her."
Betty Bruni, a private citizen, testifying on behalf of victims before the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding Operation TelePHONEY, the largest crackdown on telemarketing scams in the agency's history.
Bruni said a for-profit group, Handicapped & Disabled Workshops Inc., of Arizona, charged her mother $398.95 for light bulbs she doesn't remember ordering in December 2006.
Her mother, Elva Silliman, 96, of North Dakota, was charged for the light bulbs despite sending them back, Bruni said. The same company had targeted Silliman a year earlier, Bruni said, and kept her name on file.
When Bruni tried to get a refund for her mother, the company told her the payment counted as a donation rather than a payment for a product. It took a dozen phone calls, letters and e-mails - and help from the state attorney general's office - before the company sent a refund to Ms. Silliman,
The FTC filed a lawsuit against Handicapped & Disabled Workshops Inc. seeking to bar the company from telemarketing and seeking restitution for consumers. The agency claims the company aggressively solicited elderly customers with calls seeking "support" or "donations" for handicapped or disabled employees. The company also violated the Do-Not-Call Registry.
From Syracuse.com, A voice against phone scams, Syracuse woman travels to D.C. to tell story of how her mother was victimized, May 31, 2008. Ms. Bruni can be reached, via Syracuse.com, at: (315) 251-1810.
CATS Comment: There is only one word that we here at CATS have for scammers like the ones that scammed Ms. Silliman. The word is - telescum!
Telemarketers have often been the bottom feeders of the sales industry. Just when we didn't think that the industry couldn't get any lower, stories like this surface. Our advice for the elderly, to coin the words of Nancy Regan, is: 'Just say no.'
May 26, 2008
"The sheer breadth of Operation Tele-PHONEY is a testament to the ability of law enforcement agencies at all levels to work together effectively to help protect consumers both in the United States and abroad, Id like to personally thank all of our partners in this sweep for helping to eradicate the scourge of telemarketing fraud.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman William E. Kovacic commenting about Operation Tele-PHONEY, which had more than 180 actions brought by the FTC and Its law enforcement partners.
Through Operation Tele-PHONEY, the FTC has filed federal district court complaints against 13 allegedly deceptive telemarketing operations. Combined with the actions brought by other enforcement agencies, the sweep encompasses more than 180 cases that include both civil and criminal actions in the U.S. and Canada. In many of the FTC actions announced today, federal courts have temporarily frozen defendants assets and suspended defendants operations.
Operation Tele-PHONEY includes the new FTC cases announced today, developments in several other FTC telemarketing cases, more than 80 state law enforcement actions, criminal actions against more than 90 defendants, and eight cross-border telemarketing fraud actions brought by Canadas Competition Bureau and the British Columbia Business Practices and Consumer Protection Authority. According to the FTC, in the 13 actions it is announcing today, more than 500,000 consumers were defrauded by unscrupulous telemarketers, resulting in losses of more than $100 million. The Commission estimates that as a result of the law enforcement actions consumers will save approximately $30 million over the next year.
From a press release on the FTC's web site, FTC Announces Operation Tele-PHONEY, Agencys Largest Telemarketing Sweep, May 20, 2008. Chairman Kovacic can be reached, via the FTC at: (202) 326-2100
CATS Comment: While we commend the FTC for their actions, the problem with unlawful telemarketing is getting worse.
Unless Congress changes the Telephone Sales Rule (TSR) to allow private citizens a private right of action (the right to sue) telemarketers will continue to use spoofed caller-id's and confusing names to avoid detection.
The problem will have to get much worse before Congress acts.
We, here at CATS, suggest that you memorize your local member of Congress's phone number and give that number out when companies ask you for your number. Perhaps that will solve the problem.
May 18, 2008
"It's a practice known as 'Caller ID spoofing' and a man who runs a telemarketing business in Oregon told KATU News that it is one of the tools telemarketers use to mask their identity.
"The practice is illegal, but Web sites exist that sell software that let anyone mask their caller ID identity.
"The telemarketing owner declined to be identified or go on camera but said he doesn't have a home phone anymore - because he was sick of getting telemarketing calls."
Dan Tilkin, a TV reporter for KATU TV in Portland Oregon, commenting about how telemarketers dodge caller-ID rules and send fake caller-ID's to mask their identity.
Two local residents, James Johnson of Tigard and Sheryl Juber of Portland, said they were getting calls on their cell phones from telemarketers even though they are listed on the "Do Not Call" list.
Typically, telemarketers abide by the list, but some work very hard to circumvent it. A fine for a violation runs into the tens of thousands of dollars.
Juber said she tried to get the name of the business calling her but the telemarketer hung up on her after using an expletive.
Officials say people receiving bogus calls should document the calls in any way possible. A complaint can only be filed and an investigation begun if a legitimate business name and number is listed in the complaint paperwork.
Most likely, the telemarketers are well aware of the stipulations, so if they are acting illegally, they will try to spoof the caller-ID to avoid detection.
From KATU's web site, Telemarketers dodge Do Not Call list with mystery numbers, May, 16, 2008. Mr. Tilkin can be reached, via KATU, at (503) 231-4222.
CATS Comment: So what's a consumer to do?
We here at CATS recommend that you try to "play along" with the caller and try to find out what they are selling and who they are. Remember, they are trying to sell you something, and as such, will reveal that information. Plus, you get the added bonus of wasting the telemarketer's time.
After the call, document the information and send it to the FTC for processing. If enough people gather information then we can find out who these people are, and the Government can go after them.
To file a complaint with the FTC, click here.
May 11, 2008
"I called the Nacogdoches [Texas] chamber and they have nothing but positive things to say about ETECH. And theyre pay scale is pretty good.
Angela Raiborn, the Mayor of Rusk, Texas commenting about the Rusk City Council's decision to bring ETECH, Inc., a telemarketing company, to downtown Rusk.
The telemarketing company, which services AT&T cell phone customers, XM Radio subscribers and Capital One credit card users, is set to open a branch in the building on the corner of Fifth and Henderson streets on the square in Rusk.
Rusk council members approved a loan of $50,500 of 4A EDC monies for the purchase of furniture for the site the first portion of an estimated $250,000 incentives package to the company during a special meeting held Friday afternoon, upon the recommendation of Chamber Executive Director Bob Goldsberry.
The package offers the company loans and grants for initial start-up and other incentives based on performance and staffing in the future.
The companys starting pay is reported to be about about $25,000. The company also offers insurance, retirement benefits and a tuition package to its employees
From The Jacksonville Daily Progress, Telemarketing company moving to Rusk, May 10, 2008. Mayor Raiborn can be reached, via the City of Rusk at: (903) 683-2213,
CATS Comment: With the air so full of political stories these days, isn't it nice to know that in Texas, your taxpayer dollars are being well spent.
Don't worry, Rusk is not the only city that does this. Your tax dollars are probably being used to do this as well.
May 4, 2008
"The Competition Bureau is committed to taking action and seeking significant sentences against scammers who harm businesses and consumers through deceptive telemarketing schemes."
Andrea Rosen, Acting Deputy Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau, Canada, commenting about an Ajax, Ontario man that received a two-year conditional jail sentence for his involvement in a business directories telemarketing scam that defrauded businesses of an estimated $150 million over a 10-year period.
Paul Barnard, 56, a senior manager of DataCom Marketing Inc., pleaded guilty to six criminal charges under the deceptive telemarketing provisions of the Competition Act.
In addition to the conditional jail sentence, Madam Justice Marion E. Lane of the Ontario Court of Justice ordered Mr. Barnard to complete community service. Mr. Barnard is also prohibited from engaging in any form of telemarketing for life.
The Competition Bureau is an independent law enforcement agency that contributes to the prosperity of Canadians by protecting and promoting competitive markets and enabling informed consumer choice.
From a press release by the Competition Bureau, Jail Sentence for Deceptive Telemarketer, April 29, 2008. Ms. Rosen can be contacted, via the Competition Bureau at: (819) 997-1231.
CATS Comment: You go girl! Right on Ms. Rosen!
The Canadians have the right idea. Rather than calling it illegal telemarketing, they call it unfair competition. By doing that, Canada makes the telemarketer an outcast in his industry since the telemarketer is taking unfair advantage of his fellow telemarketers as well as consumers.
The ATA (American Teleservices Association) here in the USA could sure learn a lesson from that concept!
April 27, 2008
"It makes me feel like a fool for one thing because I trusted them."
"It just seems like it's just a scam, you know."
Wilene Sanders of Hayward California commenting about the fact that she became a victim of what is now being called the Wal-Mart Shopping Spree Scam. She lost $298.
The suspected scam gets its name because a telemarketer tempts consumers with heavily discounted gift cards for major retailers and other businesses. Now the Federal Trade Commission is moving to shut the telemarketing company down.
For the record, Wal-Mart is NOT involved with this scam.
The Consumer Rewards Network near Los Angeles promised her a $500 shopping spree and discounts to entertainment venues like Six Flags. All this for just a $4.95 shipping and handling fee payable by check or debit. Sanders says that once the company got her checking account information, it electronically debited money from her account without permission. She is still waiting for her shopping spree.
The Better Business Bureau says the Consumer Rewards Network is also known by many other names including Mega Movie Club, Star Network and Health Network USA.
From KGO-TVs (ABC-TV San Francisco, California) web site, Consumers Duped By Shopping Spree Scam, April 6, 2008. KGO-TV, can be contacted, toll free, at: (877) 222-7777.
CATS Comment: The telephone scammers are at it again! The best advice that we here at CATS can give you is the same advice that we always give you: simply never buy from a telemarketer no matter how good the offer seems to be. Often, it is just a scam, and even if it is a legitimate offer, you probably could get it cheaper via the net.
So, as Nancy Regan says, Just say NO!
And if you are in a sporting mood, why not try and waste as much of the telemarketers time as possible? If we all waste one minute of a telemarketers time it will limit them to 60 calls per hour. Telemarketers need to talk to about 100 people an hour to be profitable. By limiting them to 60 calls per hour, it will bring the industry to a screeching halt.
Wouldnt that be nice?
April 20, 2008
"We regret that the situation occurred. We took this situation very seriously and took aggressive steps to correct the processes related to the situation. We're confident that the changes we've implemented will help protect consumers."
Christy Phillips Brown, a spokesperson for Wachovia Bank, commenting on the bank's involvement with alleged telemarketing fraudsters that apparently lead banking giant Wachovia to pay "restitution," according to the company.
For several years, the North Carolina-based bank reportedly honored thousands of fraudulent transactions for more than $140 million from telemarketing scammers. Wachovia is said to have collected millions of dollars in fees, and despite numerous warnings from inside and outside of the bank, apparently never looked into the sources of the fraudulent transactions.
Wachovia, the nation's fourth-largest bank, previously said its executives were unaware of the fraudulent transactions. But documents released in a recent court case reportedly show otherwise.
"YIKES!!!!!" was how one Wachovia executive reportedly reacted in a 2005 e-mail to colleagues, after learning the bank had received thousands of complaints over two months due to activity from a single account.
From ABC TV News, Wachovia Facing Fines Over Fraud Fiasco - Involvement With Alleged Telemarketing Fraudsters Behind Potential Fines, April 16, 2008. Ms. Brown can be reaced, via Wachovia's Corporate Communications department at (704) 374-2138.
CATS Comment: Isn't it amazing that not one Wachovia executive is facing some jail time? Another example of lax enforcement of the laws designed to protect the citizen.
April 13, 2008
"Abdullah's former boss later took the stand saying Abdullah was a bright and well spoken young man when he started work at her telemarketing company, but over time, she and other employees noticed changes."
Amy Allen, a television reporter for KGPE, Channel 47, CBS in Fresno, California commenting on the testimony in the trial of Ramadan Abdullah, accused of shooting a Sheriff's Deputy to death.
His father and his former supervisor each took the witness stand to describe watching Ramadan Abdullah slowly deteriorate, suffering from delusions and uncontrollable emotions. His father, Mahdi Abdullah, told jurors they consulted religious leaders and even tried alternative therapies.
From KGPE's web site, Defense Continues in Abdullah Murder Trial, April 9, 2008. Ms Allen can be reached via KGPE, at: (559) 222-2411.
CATS Comment: Remember the "Twinkie defense?" The dictionary at Law.com defines it as: A claim by a criminal defendant that at the time of the crime, he/she was of diminished mental capacity due to intake of too much sugar, as from eating "Twinkies," sugar-rich snacks.
Belive it or not, the defense actually worked!
So, we here at CATS wonder why some enterprising California lawyer doesn't come up with the "Telemarketing defense." The "Telemarketing defense" would go something like this: A claim by a criminal defendant that at the time of the crime he/she was of a diminished mental capacity due to the frustration of constant rejection by the people that he called to sell them something.
In Abdullah's case, this would be the perfect defense. Only in California would somethng like this work. Ya gotta love our lawyers.
April 6, 2008
[The Telemarketing scheme was based on] "misdirection, misimpression and misunderstanding,"
Assistant US Attorney Bruce Reppert from the Southern District of Illinois. commenting about his prosecution of a fraudulent telemarketing scheme that took about $40 million from more than 325,000 people who were misled to believe they would get credit cards.
Kyle Kimoto, a Las Vegas resident whose business, Assail Inc., was based in Utah, was indicted by a grand jury in June on one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, one count of mail fraud and 12 counts of wire fraud. Authorities allege residents of 34 Southern Illinois counties were among victims of the alleged fraud, resulting in the case being held in East St. Louis.
Reppert said Kimoto and co-conspirators had telemarketers call a consumer whose applications for a credit card had recently been denied, imply that they represented the financial institution that had denied credit, ask several questions and then tell them they would receive a VISA or MasterCard.
Instead of credit cards, those who responded to the pitch and paid fees of $159 or more got an application for a debit card, along with a package of what was, in essence, junk mail.
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Prosecutor alleges $40 million telemarketing fraud, April 1, 2008. Mr. Reppert, can be reached via the US Attorney's office for the Southern District of Illinois, at: (618) 628-3700.
CATS Comment: The telemarketing industry preys on the less fortunate and desperate. In this example, banks rented names and phone numbers of people who were rejected for credit cards, and the telemarketers attacked them like vultures.
While the telemarketers were eventually prosecuted, don't the banks (that provided the information) bear some responsibility?
March 30, 2008
"This [telemarketing] is something that we have not done in the past. It's really a little bit out of the box for us to do this.
"We don't get the majority [of donations], but we're not doing the work either.
"Basically, they're making a cold call. Whatever we make off them we didn't have before."
Officer Rich Wilson, Port St. Lucie, FL Police Athletic League (PAL) executive director, commenting on the league's use of telemarketing. Citing a faltering economy and a possible negative impact from property tax reforms, the police department's Police Athletic League has turned to a telemarketing fundraising campaign to help generate revenue.
PAL has hired Public Safety Advocates of Louisiana, whose offices are in Port St. Lucie, to call area small businesses to solicit funds. Public Safety Advocates has been working since February and the firm is calling businesses, not private citizens.
Public Safety Advocates of Louisiana began in Florida, moved to Louisiana and relocated back to Florida after Hurricane Katrina. He said the group has a history of working with nonprofit law enforcement agencies.
From the Scripps Treasure Coast Newspaper, Police Athletic League in PSL turns to telemarketing to raise funds, March 25, 2008. Officer Wilson can be reached, via PAL, at: (772) 398-9436.
CATS Comment: Here is another example of "police telemarketing" at work. We have heard of one California resident who jokingly told the telemarketer that he was a drug dealer and would not contribute to the cops! The telemarketer then called the police and told them about the conversation, and the local sheriff was dispatched to the house to check it out.
It turns out that the alleged "drug dealer" was, in reality, an officer with another law enforcement agency!
Perhaps the law enforcement community should spend its time catching criminals, and not bothering businesses and residents with telephonic requests for donations to a charity.
March 23, 2008
"1.1.1. ATA members commit to uphold the highest standards of conduct in their inbound and outbound telephone communications with consumers, consistent with the following principles:
"1.1.1. Be fair, responsible and honest, and follow the standards set forth herein as well as applicable federal and state laws and regulations.
"1.1.2. Treat consumers with courtesy, dignity and respect.
"1.1.3. Provide accurate information in a clear and understandable manner in all communications with consumers.
"1.1.4. Not engage in undue sales pressure or unfair, deceptive or abusive tactics.
"1.1.5. Respect consumers' privacy and protect their information in a secure manner.
"1.1.6. Provide prompt, high-quality customer service designed to respond to consumers' changing needs and expectations. "
The American Teleservices Association's (ATA) "Teleservices Consumer Bill of Rights." as posted on their web site. The ATA's Chief Executive Officer, Tim Searcy, can be reached toll free at: (866) 500-4272 x103.
CATS Comment: Every time we ask an ATA member (or most telemarketers for that matter) for a copy of their written 'Do-Not-Call' policy we are cheerfully ignored, even though it is required by law, and they can be civilly sued for non-compliance.
Therefore, we here at CATS humbly suggest a small addition to the ATA's "Teleservices Consumer Bill of Rights."
1.1.7. Maintain and enforce a written "Do-Not-Call" policy that meet the expected standards of the FCC, and provide it to anyone upon demand as required by law. The policy shall also be conspicuously posted on the organization's web site, (if the organization has a web site.)
Well Mr. Searcy? We shall await your answer.
March 16, 2008
"May we have your phone number?
"It will enable us to provide you with a higher level of service and to improve our communication with you. We respect your privacy, and are committed to protecting it, and will not use it for any telemarketing."
Sign in a Burlington Coat Factory store near Seattle, Washington. To view the complete sign, click here.
Picture was taken in the last 60 days. The sign is current.
Burlington Coat Factory can be contacted, via their spokesperson, Ms. Audrey Shapiro at: (609) 387-7800 x2826
CATS Comment: Burlington Coat Factory (BCF) claims that they will not use the number for telemarketing. Let's take a look at that claim, shall we?
On the sign they say: "Be the 1st to hear about special events - savings opportunities - exciting new fashions." We suspect that BCF will call you (via a robo call) to tell you this. Simply put, those calls ARE telemarketing calls!
The sign also says: "For a complete privacy statement, please visit www.burlingtoncoatfactory.com."
The policy does indicate how BCF "respects your privacy" by sharing your information with "affiliated companies, carefully selected vendors, business partners and other organizations to provide better service to you."
The policy goes on to say that they also share your personal information with: "specially chosen companies that help us with marketing functions (such as manage our Internet business, maintain and manage our customer information, as well as market our products and services). And at times we may share information with other companies that have a product or service that we believe will be of interest to you and/or may help them serve you better."
Feel better now?
March 9, 2008
"As a second-generation direct marketer, (my father, Murray Roman is recognized as the founder of the telemarketing industry), sadly, I cannot say that the quality of the telephone customer experience has improved significantly over the past 30 years. Speaking as a consumer who is either placing plaintive calls to customer service centers or receiving the usual dinner time calls, it is not a wonderful experience."
Ernan Roman, president of Ernan Roman Direct Marketing, commenting about telemarketing in an article written by him for DM News.
In his article, Mr. Roman suggests that companies should not view customer service call centers as cost centers. Companies must consider the financial ramifications of losing customers due to poor post-sale experiences. Mr. Roman accurately points out that it's seven to 10 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to sell to an existing one. If companies measured the amount of lost revenue resulting from these self-inflicted customer losses, they would wake up to the importance of delivering high-quality call center experiences.
Companies should also increase expenditures for training, quality control procedures and development of call center personnel. They should focus on the quality of the customer's experience with their call centers, regardless of where they are located. Plenty of horror stories were reported regarding in-house, US call centers as well as outsourced centers. Telephone interaction is first and foremost about people interacting with people.
From DM News, Take steps to mend telemarketing, February 25, 2008. Mr. Roman can be reached at (718) 225-4151 x 10.
CATS Comment: Telemarketing is, by far, the most hated method of direct marketing. We commend Mr. Roman for admitting that his father was the founder to the telemarketing industry.
Too bad that telemarketing, because of its very invasive nature, will never be mended. Perhaps that is why more people are on the National "Do-Not-Call" list than voted in the last presidential election.
March 2, 2008
"The TCPA requires each company, with the exception of those making nonprofit solicitations, to maintain a list of those people who do not wish to be contacted by phone and to develop a written policy implementing this "Do not call" list-keeping requirement. These written procedures must be made available to anyone on demand.
"'Do not call' lists must be maintained for a period of 10 years and cannot be sold, or in any way shared (except with a subsidiary or affiliate company), without the consumer's expressed consent.
"Any employee engaged in any aspect of the telemarketing process must be fully trained in the above-mentioned procedures. Service agencies must make sure they are in compliance and their clients fully understand and agree to follow the procedures for maintaining "Do not call" data, as the clients will ultimately be held liable.
"A word of warning: If you feel this 'Do not call' provision does not apply to you because you have an existing relationship with the individuals you call, think again. Although the federal statute creates an exemption for 'established business relationships,' the FCC requires that the 'Do not call' requests of established customers be honored. In effect, once an established customer requests not to be called, the 'established business relationship' exemption ceases to apply. "
From a web page on the American Teleservices Association's (ATA) web site. (The American Teleservices Association used to be the American Telemarketing Association.) Author unknown. The ATA can be reached, toll free, at (866) 500-4272.
CATS Comment: The ATA correctly points out that the law states that: "Any employee engaged in any aspect of the telemarketing process must be fully trained in the above-mentioned procedures."
Let's take a closer look at this, shall we?
Modern telemarketing is done with numerous people with various skill sets. Here is a typical example:
You go out to buy a big screen TV at your local "Big Buy" electronics store. The salesman sells you the TV, writes the order up, and gets your address and phone number for the installer. He asks you if you want an extended warranty, and you decline his offer. In fact, you tell him not to call you and offer you one later, (in other words, "Put me on your Do-Not-Call list.")
The data (your name and phone number) is sent to Big Buy's data center, where various information technology people key your information into the Big Buy database.
Later that year, using that database, a telemarketer calls you at home and again offers you an "extended warranty." So much for your "Do-Not-Call" request.
According to the law "Any employee engaged in any aspect of the telemarketing process must know the law. So you go back to Big Buy and complain to the salesman who says something like 'I'm not a telemarketer, so why should I know that?'
We, here at CATS have argued (and collected against) companies that break this law. Our compelling argument goes something like this:
We believe that the salesman on the floor is a part of the telemarketing process; in fact, CATS would argue that the salesman is the MOST IMPORTANT part of the telemarketing process since it is the salesman who collected our unlisted number, without which, no telemarketing could happen,
Next time you go into any store that has credit cards, ask a saleman about the telemarketing practices of his company. If you expect an intelligent, concise answer, you probably won't get it.
February 24, 2008
"Earlier this week, the co-owners and seven office managers of telemarketing firm Gecko Communications Inc. were sentenced to federal prison for defrauding 83,000 consumers of $15.7 million in a seemingly unrelated advanced-fee credit-card scheme.
"According to prosecutors, Gecko falsely offered people with bad credit pre-approved credit cards if they agreed to debit their bank accounts for between $159.95 and $229.95. But rather than cards and improved credit, all consumers got for their money was an application, according to officials."
Ken Magill, a communist with Direct Magazine, commenting about the sentencing of several managers and co-owners of Gecko Communications.
Christopher L. Carlson, 37, of Glenwood, IA, and Jason R. Spencer, 27, of Osceola, IA were sentenced to two years in federal prison without parole. Steven T. Rice, 45, of Kansas City, MO, was sentenced to two years and 11 months in federal prison without parole.
Also, Zachery T. Whitehill, 30, of Sahuarita, AZ, was ordered to serve 11 years and three months in federal prison without parole. Jaime E. Cook, 31, of Kansas City, MO, was sentenced to five years in federal prison without parole. Bradley L. Lovstad, 45, of Muscantine, IA and Monty E. Wanless, 31, of Kansas City, MO were sentenced to eight years and one month in federal prison without parole.
All were also ordered to serve three years of supervised release after their jail terms and to pay $6,048 in restitution each
From Direct Magazine, Court Shutters Advance-Fee Card Fulfillment Firm, December 22, 2006. Mr. Magill can be reached at: (212) 204-4219.
CATS Comment: With the Academy Awards (the Oscars) happening this week, we here at CATS would like to point out that, according to Customer Inter@ction Magazine (formerly Telemarketing Magazine) Gecko Communications was declared number 49 in the Sixteenth-Annual Top 50 Outbound Teleservices Agencies by the magazine back in 2001.
It just doesn't get any better than this!
February 17, 2008
"Idahoans were contacted under the premise that they had been specially selected to win a prize. The reality was that United Publishers purchased lists of consumers telephone numbers from data brokers and then randomly selected numbers to call in an attempt to sell magazine subscriptions. If a phone solicitor asks that you make a purchase to win a free prize, the prize is not free."
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence W. Wasden announcing a settlement under which Atlanta-based telemarketer United Publishers of America Inc. will not be allowed to make telephone solicitations in Idaho.
The settlement resolves allegations that the companys local operations violated the Idaho Telephone Solicitation Act and the state Consumer Protection Act.
Under the guise of selling magazine subscriptions, United Publishers employees were allegedly asking consumers whether they had a credit card and that they would receive a free watch and free magazines.
To receive the free merchandise, consumers had to purchase magazine subscriptions that could not be immediately canceled. Before it can resume soliciting in Idaho, the settlement requires United Publishers to register with the Attorney Generals Consumer Protection Division as a telephone solicitor.
United Publishers admitted no violation of Idaho law. However, they agreed to pay the Attorney General $1,000 in civil penalties and $1,507 in attorney fees and investigation expenses.
From a press release on Attorney General Wasden's web site, Attorney General Stops Telemarketer from Soliciting in Idaho, February 13, 2008. Attorney General Wasden can be contacted, via his office, at: (208) 334-2400.
CATS Comment: While we applaud Attorney General Wasen's actions, we here at CATS, wonder just how many phone calls United Publishers made to Idaho citizens.
Simply put, we are curious how much the fine was per illegal call. Given the nature of the telemarketing industry which makes thousands of call an hour, we suspect that the fine per call was, at best, a cost of doing business.
Let's review, shall we? The telemarketer paid $1,000 in fines and $1,507 in "attorney fees and investigation costs."
We do not know much about Idaho and Idaho attorneys, but we can't even get a California attorney to sneeze for $1,500!
We here at CATS suspect that the fine, in reality, was a joke and not a real deterrent to the illegal activities often used by the telemarketing industry.
February 10, 2008
"The sheer volume of people who have signed up for the list proves that Americans and New Jersey residents want to be protected from fast-talking salespeople who are looking to make a quick buck. The President needs to sign this legislation at once."
Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Middelsex, NJ) recently urging President Bush to come to the aid of consumers all across America and promptly sign federal legislation that would make enrollment on the national "do not call" anti-telemarketing list permanent.
From PolitickerNJ.com, GREENSTEIN URGES PRESIDENT TO SIGN FEDERAL 'DO NOT CALL' LEGISLATION, February 8, 2008. Assemblywoman Greenstein can be reached at: (609) 395-9911.
CATS Comment: It's easy to support a law that over 95% of the population wants. It is harder to get the funds to enforce the law effectively.
The recent enforcement actions by the Federal Trade Commission settling claims for pennies on the dollar will create the very situation that caused the law to be passed in the first place.
The telemarketing lobbyists are surely getting their money's worth. Let's hope that President Bush signs the law AND provides sufficient funds for enforcement.
February 3, 2008
"People like getting messages, but it has to be a relevant message. If there's a place where you like shopping, you'll probably want to know when they're having the biggest sale of the year."
Jesse Crowe, president of Voice Mail Broadcasting in Costa Mesa, California commenting to San Francisco Columnist David Lazarus about telemarketing.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced a complaint and proposed consent decree settling charges that Mr. Crowe's business, Voice Mail Broadcasting Corporation (VMBC). a California-based voice broadcaster, made over 46 million unlawful telemarketing calls. The proposed court order permanently bars the defendants from violating the FTCs Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and requires them to pay $180,000 in civil penalties.
According to the complaint filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), since October 1, 2003, Crowe's company used automated dialers to blast consumers with prerecorded telemarketing pitches. The calls pitched products from debt-consolidation services to mortgage brokerage services and other retail and financial services. When VMBCs telemarketing calls were answered by consumers rather than answering machines or voicemail systems, VMBC either immediately hung up, leaving consumers with dead air, or played a prerecorded message. Such calls violate the TSR, which limits telemarketers use of prerecorded messages by requiring that calls answered by a person be connected to a sales representative within two seconds. The FTCs complaint alleges that VMBC, under the direction of its owner, made more than 46 million calls that violated the TSR.
From the San Francisco Chronicle, Lazarus at Large, Do Not Call list imperiled, December 5, 2004. Mr. Crowe can be contacted, via Voice and Mobile Broadcast Corporation, at: (714) 437-0600.
CATS Comment: Hi kids! Its time for another lesson of FTC Math. Now here's the question: A bad man made 46 million telemarketing calls and paid a fine of $180,000. What was the fine per call?
Solution: Divide $180,000 by 46,000,000 calls. The answer is $.00391, less than half a cent per call!
That's right! The FTC settled another telemarketing case for pennies on the dollar. The FTC warns that telemarketers face a fine of $11,000 per call. Yet here is another example of how the FTC fails to realistically enforce the law.
The FTC's handling of this case is nothing to Crowe about.
January 27, 2008
"This office worked hard to get the Do Not Call registry passed. Most telemarketers comply, and that has led to a significant reduction in nuisance calls. We will continue to be vigilant, since we know how much this means to Arkansas consumers."
Gabe Holmstrom, spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Dustin Mc-Daniel, commenting on a settlement of $56,000 from a lawsuit two companies of telemarketing vacations to Arkansans residents on the national Do Not Call registry.
A consent agreement signed by assistant Arkansas attorney general Jean Block and Kelly McNulty, local counsel for Richard King, who owns Berkshire Getaways of Massachusetts and Data King Corp. of New York, was filed Wednesday in federal court in Little Rock.
U. S. District Judge James Moody signed the order Thursday, making it official.
The attorney generals office, then led by Mike Beebe, the current governor, filed the lawsuit in November 2006. It alleged that since Jan. 1, 2005, Berkshire had placed more than 100, 000 telephone calls to Arkansas consumers, at least 500 of whom had listed their numbers on the national registry.
Each call to a number on the registry constituted a violation of state and federal consumer laws, the lawsuit charged.
It said at least 25 Arkansans had filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission over the unauthorized contacts, which solicited memberships in timeshare resorts.
Under the settlement, King doesn't admit that his businesses have done anything illegal or deceptive. Instead, the defendants are consenting "solely to voluntarily resolve their differences with [the state ] without the necessity of further litigation and to indicate their intent to ensure that their business practices will be in compliance with the law."
The settlement money is to be paid in installments of $ 3, 111 a month for 18 months, with fines of $ 50 to $ 200 per day accruing if any payments are late.
Also, King agreed to pay $ 100, 000 if the agreement is breached.
From the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Firms to pay $56,000 to settle calling suit, January 25, 2008. Mr. Holmstrom can be reached, via the Arkansas Attorney General's office, toll free, at: (800) 482-8982.
CATS Comment: Hold the phone a minute! According to the news story the lawsuit was because the telemarketer called Arkansas residences on the National Do Not Call registry. Why didn't the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) prosecute the telemarketer? After all, it is the FTC's responsibility to enforce the registry.
As telemarketers learn that the law is not being enforced, and worse yet, when it is, the fines are pennies on the dollar, telemarketing will again rear its ugly head.
We, here at CATS, hear stories every day about illegal calls to residences. Until Congress authorizes a private right of action in enforcing the National Do Not Call registry, there is little a consumer can do.
Until that happens, we recommend that you waste as much of the telemarketer's time as possible, ask the telemarketer for a copy of his "Do Not Call Policy" and, if you have the time, take them to court if they fail to provide it.
January 20, 2008
"It's [the law is] just not enforced"
William Raney, attorney for the American Association of Political Consultants commenting to the Los Angeles Times about lack of enforcement of California Public Utilities Code Section 2874. The law states that an unsolicited, recorded call must be preceded by "an unrecorded, natural voice." In other words, a live human.
The person also has to "state the nature of the call" and seek consent before the message can be played.
There are a few exceptions, including recorded calls from law enforcement agencies and fire departments to warn of an emergency. And businesses can make the recorded calls if they have an established relationship with the person being called.
But there is no blanket exception for political campaigns.
"The California code is very clear," said Barbara O'Connor, of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media at Cal State Sacramento. Even so, she got numerous recorded calls during recent elections. If these types of calls were preceded by a request to play them, she doesn't think many would get through.
Not surprisingly, California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) officials didn't respond to the LA Times requests for an interview on the law's enforcement.
From The Los Angeles Times, These political calls aren't just annoying, Recorded messages are illegal if not preceded by a live voice. But that law isn't enforced, January 20, 2008. William Raney can be reached via the law firm of Copilevitz & Canter, LLC, at: (816) 472-9000.
CATS Comment: We have often attempted to ask the PUC why they do not enforce the law. Every time we leave a message in this regard, our calls are not returned.
We are not surprised.
January 13, 2008
"Telephone calls frequently at odd hours by a machine somewhere in Virginia or somewhere. Making a pitch, trashing one person or another... Senator Keller and I agree that those are just an inappropriate form of political campaigning."
Colorado State Representative Bernie Buescher (D-Grand Junction) talking about a bill that he is working on to eliminate annoying political telemarketing calls to Colorado residents.
Buescher, along with Senator Keller are introducing legislation that would ban most forms of automated political telephone calls. Buescher said this is the issue he gets the most complaints about. He said it's not an easy one to take on because there are first amendment protections.
Attorney General John Suthers contacted Buescher after he introduced this bill. He told Buescher that telemarketers with political messages is the number one complaint he gets as well.
He had been working on a similar bill. Rather than having two bills on the same issue, Senator Keller, Buescher and Suthers are working together. They think these calls are a nuisance for the public
From KJCT, Channel 8 News, State leaders pushing a bill to ban political telemarketing, January 12, 2008. Representative Buescher can be reached at: (303) 866-2583.
CATS Comment: Good for you Bernie! You guys finally get it! Constituents want to be left alone at election time.
We, here at CATS, think that you have finally figured out that calling voters just angers them. We know many people who, upon receiving a political call, vote for the caller's opponent.
January 6, 2008
"In honor of National Be Nice to Cold Callers Day, sales professionals, entrepreneurs and business owners throughout the country will be hitting the phones with a vengeance. Candle light parades are scheduled in major cities throughout the U.S. to honor fallen comrades. Telephones in participating corporations will be kept on low volume."
Wendy Weiss, the self-monikered Queen of Cold Calling, is an author, speaker, sales trainer, and sales coach. She is recognized as one of the leading authorities on lead generation, cold calling and new business development and she helps clients speed up their sales cycle, reach more prospects directly and generate more sales revenue. Her clients include Avon Products, ADP, Sprint and thousands of entrepreneurs throughout the country.
According a press release on Ms. Weiss's Website, she, has proclaimed January 30th to be National Be Nice to Cold Callers Day.
Wendy has been featured in the New York Times, BusinessWeek, Entrepreneur Magazine, Selling Power, Sales & Marketing Management and various other business and sales publications. She is also a featured author in two recently released books, Masters of Sales and Top Dog Sales Secrets.
From a press release on Ms. Weiss's website, The Queen of Cold Calling Proclaims National Be Nice to Cold Callers Day, date of press release unknown. To view the press release, click here. Ms. Weiss can be reached at: (212) 799-4389.
CATS Comment: Wow! Candle light parades in major cities, telemarketers marching to honor fallen comrades, what a great news story! Please provide a schedule of locations and dates so we may cover it as a news event.
We will post the schedule information on our website!
We are sure our viewers, many of whom are in the news media, would love to cover the event as well. We thank you in advance for the information.
We also suspect thousands of ordinary people, many of whom have had their dinner interrupted by telemarketers, would like to attend the events as well, to express their appreciation for the great work that the telemarketing industry does.
CATS Note: We left a phone message for Ms. Weiss telling her of our "Quote Of The Week" and asked her to respond and provide us with dates, times, and locations of the candle light parades that (according to her press release) would allegedly happen in major cities in the U.S.
Ms. Weiss responded by phone 7 days later. She stated that the "marches" were scheduled for January 30, 2007. When we asked if she had obtained permits (required by the City of Los Angeles and other cities as well) she responded by saying that the marches were "metaphoric," in other words, symbolic and not done in reality.
Her press release contained an advertisement for one of her classes, thus making the press release an advertising piece. Under California law, that might have been deemed as deceive by the California Attorney General or a court of law, possibly making Ms. Weiss liable under the law.
God save the queen! Would you expect any less from a telemarketer?
Quotes from 2007