So, all telemarketing robocalls magically vanished a few months ago when the FTC banned them, right? Um, not quite. There are still companies out there exploiting their metallic minions in the name of feeding deceptive information to consumers. This month, the FTC filed suit against three companies that were pumping out “hundreds of thousands or even millions” of calls offering questionable interest-rate reduction services.
According to the FTC’s complaint, the three companies,Economic Relief Technologies, Dynamic Financial Group, and JPM Accelerated Services:
[M]ade illegal pre-recorded robocalls to consumers, using names like “card services,” “credit card services” or “account services.” The robocalls allegedly claimed the defendants’ services could lower the interest rate on consumers’ credit cards. In each case, consumers who pressed 1 after hearing the automated call were transferred to live telemarketers who allegedly misrepresented that consumers could dramatically lower the rates on their credit card. The telemarketers also said consumers would save thousands of dollars in a short period of time by lowering their interest rates and would be able to pay off their debts faster – for an up-front fee ranging from $495 to $1,495. The defendants then falsely stated that if consumers did not save a “guaranteed” amount – typically $2,500 or more – they could get a full refund of the up-front fee. However, after securing the fee, the defendants allegedly did not negotiate lower rates on behalf of consumers and provided few refunds to those who were dissatisfied with the service.
In all three cases, courts have issued orders blocking the companies from making additional robocalls pending trial.
“The FTC has heard the public outcry against robocalls and has taken swift action to stop them. During these difficult economic times, the last thing anyone needs is to be bombarded by robocalls pitching worthless interest-rate reduction programs,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. “The lawsuits announced today are not the first, nor will they be the last, that the agency brings to protect consumers from intrusive, illegal, and deceptive telemarketing robocalls.”
Related: Robocalls Banned!