The Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement imposing a $3.4 million fine against Versatile Marketing Solutions for calling nearly one million consumers on the National Do Not Call Registry between Nov. 2011 and July 2012 to pitch home security services and products.
The company allegedly violated the Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule by purchasing millions of consumer names and phone numbers from lead generators who claimed consumers gave permission for the company to contact them about the installation of free home security systems.
The complaint alleges that in reality, the sales leads were obtained by illegal means through rampant use of robocalls from “Tom with Home Protection,” fake survey calls, and calls to phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. VMS then called the consumers without first checking to see if they had registered their telephone numbers on the DNC Registry.
VMS ignored signs that the lead generators were engaged in illegal telemarketing practices after consumers said they had not given permission for the company to call and they had not given permission to receive a robocall.
Under the settlement, all but $320,700 of the fine is suspended because of the company’s inability to pay. Additionally, the company is prohibited from making abusive telemarketing calls, from calling any consumer on the DNC Registry and places restrictions on how the company can obtain and use lead-generated phone numbers in the future.
Federal regulators mean serious business when it comes to the 10-year-old Do Not Call Registry.
Last June the FTC imposed a $7.5 million penalty against a prominent refinancer of veterans’ home loans.
In October, agreed to pay $32 million to settle charges that it violated federal regulations by harassing debt collection robocalls to consumers’ cell phones. The complaint was filed on behalf of 7.7 million customers and was the largest cash payout ever for alleged violations of the Do Not Call Registry.