Washington, D.C. – Today, the Federal Communications Commission proposed to assess a forfeiture of $780,000 against AT&T Corporation for apparent violations of the Commission’s Do-Not-Call telemarketing rules. This is the Commission’s first major Do-Not-Call enforcement action.
The Commission found that AT&T apparently made telephone solicitation calls to 29 consumers on 78 separate occasions after those consumers had requested that AT&T not call them again. The Commission therefore concluded that AT&T had apparently violated the FCC’s company-specific Do-Not-Call rule, section 64.1200(e) of the Commission’s rules. The Commission staff had initiated an investigation of AT&T’s telemarketing practices after a regular review of consumer complaint data revealed over 300 complaints in the previous several months alleging Do-Not-Call violations by AT&T. The Commission proposed a forfeiture of $10,000 for each of the 78 apparent violations.
Action by the Commission on October 30, 2003, by Notice of Apparent Liability
for Forfeiture (FCC 03-267). Chairman Powell, Commissioners Abernathy, Copps,
Martin, and Adelstein.
The Federal Communications Commission announced today that it has proposed a $780,000 forfeiture against AT&T Corporation for violating the FCC’s Do-Not-Call rules. Chairman Michael K. Powell issued the following statement:
"Today's enforcement action demonstrates our resolve in the fight to protect consumers from unwanted and intrusive telephone calls. This puts telemarketers on notice that we will take all measures necessary to protect consumers who chose to be left alone in their homes. Together with our partners at the Federal Trade Commission, we will remain vigilant to ensure that telemarketers respect the wishes of consumers."
The New York Post agreed to pay $5,500 to settle claims that telemarketers working on its behalf illegally called residents registered on Pennsylvania's "Do Not Call" list, state officials said yesterday.
Telemarketers working for NYP Holdings Inc., doing business as the Post, contacted residents in the Philadelphia area in February who were registered on the list, state Attorney General Mike Fisher said. Twenty residents complained to the state. The paper was trying to sell newspaper subscriptions, Fisher said. The Post's telemarketers also prevented its name and telephone number from appearing on residents' caller-ID display in violation of laws concerning telemarketers, according to officials.
"It was an unfortunate situation involving an outside contractor. We will fully comply with the terms of the agreement," said Suzi Halpin, a spokeswoman for the Post.
The Mississippi Public Service Commission announced $810,000 in fines Tuesday
against two out of state companies for violation of the do-not-call list.
The commission said three other firms could be fined this week, pushing the total amount levied to about $2 million.
Debt Management Foundation of Largo, Fla., was fined $550,000, and Credit Foundation of America, located in Corona, Calif., was fined $260,000. The companies have 30 days to meet with PSC staffers, respond to the allegations and seek settlement, said Central District Commissioner Nielsen Cochran.
Last week, the commission filed its first fine of $125,000 against Krane Products Inc., of Boca Raton, Fla.
Southern District Commissioner Michael Callahan said the companies are accused of using caller ID blocks or pre-recorded messages to reach Mississippians. Both methods are illegal.
In addition, calls must be limited to between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
"As long as you telemarket within the law, you're welcome," Callahan said.
Neither company could be reached for comment.
The commission would not identify the three companies that could be fined later this week, but did say the fines could total $1.08 million. The Associated Press identified those companies as DirectTV as well as two more debt management firms — Debt Relief Group and Lighthouse Credit Foundation.
The Mississippi law went into effect Oct. 1, and requires telemarketers to purchase an $800 do-not-call list from the state. So far, about 72 companies, most from out of state, have bought it, officials said.
Commissioners hope to use the money collected from the fines to continue operation of enforcement efforts. The commission must have legislative approval to use the money.
Cochran said the law still has some gray areas — such as political calls — that need clarification.
Callahan urged consumers to secure as much information as possible from telemarketers who violate the law, then report them to the PSC.
Northern District Commissioner Bo Robinson said the commission has taken a hard line because some constituents have told them they were tired of being bothered. "We're serious about it. The people out there are serious about it," he said.
There have been 640 complaints filed to date and 176 investigations are active, officials said.
More than 190,000 consumers have signed up for the list.
Of the 33 states with no-call laws, Missouri leads the nation in judgments against telemarketers, with collections totaling more than $1 million since its no-call law took effect in July 2001.