AG Cooper targets robocaller as Do Not Call Registry turns 10
Release date: 10/23/2013
ISI Alarms NC should pay for illegal robocalls, Cooper says
Raleigh: Attorney General Roy Cooper filed suit today against an alarm system company that made illegal robocalls to numbers listed on the Do Not Call Registry. The case comes ten years after the Registry first began protecting consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls.
“Thanks to the Do Not Call Registry, people have the right to decide who calls them at home and we want to protect that right,” Cooper said. “The Registry has cut the number of unwanted sales calls, but some telemarketers continue to violate the law and that’s why we’re cracking down.”
Do Not Call complaints were the top source of consumer complaints to Cooper’s office last year, especially robocalls, which are automatically dialed, pre-recorded telemarketing calls. 6,126 consumers filed Do Not Call complaints with Cooper’s office in 2012, mostly about robocalls. So far in 2013, consumers have filed nearly 3,200 Do Not Call complaints with Cooper’s office and approximately 75 percent of those complaints were about robocalls.
Today, Cooper filed suit against ISI Alarms NC, Inc. and owner William Jason Waller of Iredell County, seeking civil penalties for illegal robocalls the company made to North Carolina consumers. ISI Alarms is no longer operating but Cooper wants to make sure it pays for violating telemarketing laws. State law allows penalties of up to $5,000 per Do Not Call violation.
More than 1,000 North Carolina consumers contacted the Consumer Protection Division after receiving misleading robocalls that claimed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) had received reports of recent break-ins in the area. Many consumers who reported getting these unwanted calls had listed their phone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry.
Cooper’s complaint alleges that thousands of such calls were placed to North Carolina home and cell telephone numbers on behalf of ISI Alarm during the past two years, and that the company saw its sales quadruple as a result. The automated message prompted consumers to press a certain number to learn more about recent crimes in their area. Consumers were then transferred to a call center operated by ISI Alarms and heard a pitch for the company’s home alarm system and alarm monitoring services. The automated message gave listeners the option to press a different number to stop the calls, which consumers said did not work.
Under both state and federal laws, it’s illegal to make most commercial telemarketing calls to home and mobile telephone numbers listed on the Do Not Call Registry. North Carolina law offers additional protections from robocalls, making sales calls that use recorded messages illegal even if you haven’t joined the Registry.
More than 6.4 million North Carolina telephone numbers are currently on the Do Not Call Registry. Since Do Not Call laws began protecting consumers in October 2003, Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division has taken action against more than 30 companies that have broken the law, making violators pay more than $1 million in civil penalties and refunds.
To protect yourself if you receive unwanted robocalls:
Never provide personal financial or other confidential information in response.
Don’t “press 1” for more information or to stop the calls. Pressing a number verifies that your telephone number is valid and will likely lead to more calls.
Scammers can manipulate (or “spoof”) Caller ID, so don’t rely on that to decide whether or not a call is legitimate.
Report the calls to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within state or by filing a consumer complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov.
Join the Do Not Call Registry if you haven’t already. To place your home and mobile telephone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry, visit www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 from the number you wish to register.
If your number is already on the Registry, be skeptical of any telemarketing calls you receive.
The latest top source of Do Not Call complaints to Cooper’s office is robocalls pitching a medic alert
. More than 500 North Carolina consumers have reported getting these calls since June 1. The Consumer Protection Division is investigating and suspects the calls are a ruse to steal money or bill health insurance providers for unnecessary medical devices. Cooper encourages people to report the calls if they get them, and not to respond to them.
“Most legitimate companies abide by telemarketing laws so if you’re on the Do Not Call Registry but still getting calls from a particular telemarketer, chances are they’re up to no good,” Cooper said. “Help us enforce the law by reporting unwanted calls to my office.”
Media contact: Noelle Talley (919) 716-6413