In another step towards ridding the United States of the dreaded, and illegal robocalls, the FTC is taking legal action to stop two operations, Voice Marketing and Voice Blaze. Both groups allegedly enabled telemarketers to place hundreds of millions of illegal prerecorded calls to consumers around the country. This included many who had registered their phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry as an attempt to evade such phone calls.
In both cases, the defendants allegedly conducted or enabled telemarketing campaigns they knew, or should have known, illegally called numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, abandoned calls by playing a prerecorded message after a person answered, failed to disclose the callers’ identity, and delivered prerecorded messages after September 1, 2009, when amendments to the Telemarketing Sales Rule largely prohibited such calls.
The FTC also alleged that the VoiceBlaze Defendants manipulated the caller names displayed on caller identification services, in violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule. The complaint alleges that, rather than the name of the telemarketer or the name of the seller on whose behalf the telemarketer was calling, the VoiceBlaze Defendants caused consumers’ caller identification services to display names such as “CUSTOMERSVC,” “CUST SERVICE,” “SERVICE,” “SERVICE ANNOUNC” and “INSURANCECO.”
The settlement orders agreed to by the defendants in both cases bar them from violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule and require them to pay civil penalties. Each set of defendants will pay $10,000. The Voice Marketing Defendants and the VoiceBlaze Defendants also agreed to the entry of civil penalty judgments of $2 million and $1 million, respectively, which are suspended based on representations that the defendants lack the ability to pay. If a defendant is found to have misrepresented his or its financial condition, the full penalty will become due immediately.