The Federal Trade Commission on Friday announced that it had filed a lawsuit against an “interconnected” group of companies and their principals, accusing them of delivering tens of millions of “phony” debt service robocalls and ringless voicemail messages in violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
A copy of the complaint can be accessed by clicking here.
The complaint alleges that companies used the outbound calling service of Stratics Networks to transmit millions of robocalls using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. Stratics is also accused of selling access to its platform to deliver ringless voicemails messages that pitched debt relief services to consumers. Stratics allegedly received “repeated notices” indicating that its customers’ traffic was likely illegal, but did nothing to stop it, according to the FTC.
Among the alleged violations of the Telemarketing Sales Rule are:
- Making misrepresentations regarding debt relief services
- Assisting and facilitating violations of the TSR by knowing, or consciously avoiding knowing, that their customers’ operations caused the initiation of telemarketing calls to numbers on the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry, as well as calls in which telemarketers failed to disclose the identity of the seller and services being offered
- Initiating illegal pre-recorded telemarketing messages, commonly known as robocalls
- Failing to make oral disclosures required by the TSR, including the identity of the debt relief sellers
- Misrepresenting material aspects of debt relief services
- Charging or receiving a fee from consumers before providing a debt relief service
“This case targets the ecosystem of companies who perpetrate illegal telemarketing to cheat American consumers who are struggling financially,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement. “The FTC will continue to take aggressive action to protect consumers from the scourge of illegal robocalls.”
The FTC also announced a consent order against KASM, a debt relief lead generator. The order imposed a fine of $3.4 million, all but $7,500 of which is being suspended due to an inability to pay. The company is also required to stop making the misrepresentations alleged in the complaint and stop violating the TSR. A copy of the consent order can be accessed by clicking here.