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AG Cooper wins injuctions against two robo callers

Release date: 12/21/2006

Telemarketers must stop illegal pre-recorded calls, pay $100,000 to state

Raleigh: Two telemarketing companies will have to change their ways and stop bothering North Carolina consumers with illegal telemarketing tactics, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.

“Consumers deserve protection from these annoying and unwelcome calls,” said Cooper. “When telemarketers break the law, my office will take action to enforce it.”

In a permanent injunction granted late Wednesday in Wake County Superior Court by Judge Ripley Rand, Guardian Communications of Moline, Illinois is barred from making prerecorded, automatically dialed telemarketing calls to North Carolinians. The order also applies to related company United States Voice Broadcasting, Inc. of Nevada, and the companies’ owner, Kevin Baker. Guardian and Baker will also pay $75,000 to the state.

According to the complaint filed by Cooper’s office in November 2005, Guardian Communications called North Carolina homes to pitch satellite television service using illegal tactics such as “robo calls,” which are prerecorded telephone calls made using automated dialers, and calling numbers listed on the Do Not Call Registry. The company, which does not actually provide satellite service, then sold the information it collected about people to satellite firms.

Under North Carolina law, prerecorded telemarketing calls are illegal unless a live operator first asks if the consumer wishes to listen to the message. To cut down on unwanted telemarketing calls North Carolina consumers can sign up for the Do Not Call Registry, which Cooper helped push through in 2003.

Cooper has also said that he would like to see the Registry apply to prerecorded political calls. Current state law requires political campaigns making prerecorded calls to identify who is making the call, the nature of the call, and provide contact information for the group or campaign that makes the call. Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division will meet with leaders of the state Democratic and Republican parties next month to discuss these requirements and look for ways to make sure that candidates follow the law.

Cooper also won an order last week against United American Technologies (UAT) of Edmond, Oklahoma and its owner Tom Anderson to stop them from using illegal robo calls and calling North Carolina consumers whose numbers appear on the Do Not Call Registry. Under the judgment signed by Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard E. Manning, Jr., UAT and Anderson will cooperate in Attorney General’s investigation of any call centers or telemarketing contractors that worked with UAT and will pay $25,000 to the state.

Cooper’s office had received more than a dozen complaints from consumers about calls from the National Campaign to Stop Pornography Fund. Calls included a pre-recorded message that invited North Carolinians to participate in a survey, but Cooper contends that the calls were really a pitch to convince consumers to switch their long distance phone carrier to UAT.

“When someone puts their phone number on the Do Not Call list, companies need to respect their wishes and stop calling. If you’ve placed your number on the list but still get calls, let my office know about it,” said Cooper.

To report Do Not Call violators, call the Attorney General’s Office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM. To place your number on the Do Not Call Registry, call (888) 382-1222 from the number you wish to register or visit www.ncdoj.gov .