North Carolina Department of Justice
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AG Cooper takes action against top sources of Do Not Call complaints

Release date: 4/12/2004

Raleigh: Attorney General Roy Cooper today announced enforcement actions against some of the largest sources of unwanted telemarketing calls to North Carolina consumers under the state’s Do Not Call law.

“Some telemarketers keep calling even when consumers ask them not to,” said Cooper. “We’re putting a stop to these unwanted calls.”

Cooper announced settlements with AT&T and American Communications of High Point, which sells DIRECTV satellite equipment. He also filed suit last week against MST Business Research of Surrey, Canada, a telemarketer working with American Communications to sell DIRECTV products.

Today’s settlement with AT&T resolves charges that the company and its telemarketers called North Carolina consumers who had specifically asked not to get telemarketing calls from AT&T or who had placed their numbers on the Do Not Call list. Under the agreement signed April 12, telemarketers calling on behalf of AT&T who fail to comply with North Carolina’s Do Not Call law more than once are prohibited from telemarketing into North Carolina for the company. In addition, AT&T agreed to train all current and future telemarketers to follow telemarketing laws and the terms of the settlement. AT&T, which cooperated with Cooper’s investigation, does not admit or deny any wrongdoing but has agreed to pay the state $30,000.

AT&T has also agreed to keep thorough records for two years of telemarketing calls made to North Carolina numbers as well as Do Not Call complaints filed with the company by North Carolina consumers and actions taken to resolve those complaints. AT&T must share these records with the Attorney General’s office along with copies of any telemarketing complaints filed against the company with other government agencies.

The settlement with American Communications, signed March 29, resolves allegations that the company failed to monitor its telemarketers who placed calls to North Carolina numbers that appear on the Do Not Call registry. Under terms of the agreement, American Communications must train all telemarketers making calls on the company’s behalf to follow the laws and the terms of the settlement. Any violations by a telemarketer working for the company must be documented in the employee’s file and must also be reported to Cooper’s office, along with any complaints filed by North Carolina consumers with the company. American Communications does not admit or deny any wrongdoing but has agreed to pay the state $15,000. In addition, the company will cooperate fully in Cooper’s investigations of other DIRECTV telemarketers.

Cooper also filed suit April 1 against MST, a Canadian telemarketer that worked with American Communications but did not cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation. MST is the source of many Do Not Call complaints about DIRECTV made to Cooper’s office. The suit asks the court to permanently stop MST from making illegal telemarketing calls to North Carolinians and to require MST to pay civil penalties.

In January, Cooper settled with Communication Concepts, another DIRECTV retailer. That settlement required Communication Concepts to pay $1,000 to resolve charges that the company called North Carolinians listed on the Registry and used autodialers and prerecorded pitches.

Unwanted telemarketing calls from DIRECTV and AT&T represent the two largest sources of Do Not Call complaints to Cooper’s office. A total of 296 consumers have complained to Cooper’s office about DIRECTV telemarketing calls; 82 of those calls were placed by MST telemarketers calling on behalf of American Communications. The Federal Trade Commission has received 263 Do Not Call complaints about DIRECTV from North Carolina consumers. More than 100 consumers have complained to Cooper’s office about AT&T telemarketing calls. AT&T is the second largest source of Do Not Call complaints made by North Carolinians to the Attorney General’s office and the FTC.

Cooper’s office is actively investigating Do Not Call complaints against several other companies. Consumers who signed up for the Do Not Call Registry can report telemarketers who call them to Cooper’s office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within the state or by going to www.nocallsnc.com. Consumers can file a complaint once they have been listed in the Registry for one month.

Nearly 1.9 million North Carolina numbers have been placed on the Do Not Call Registry since it began in July 2003. To sign up for the Registry, consumers can go to the website or call 1-888-382-1222 within North Carolina from the number they wish to register. North Carolinians who join the Registry are protected by both state and federal laws.

“Consumers who’ve signed up for the Do Not Call Registry have made it clear that they don’t want to get these calls,” said Cooper. “Telemarketers need to know that if they don’t follow the law, my office will take action.”