North Carolina Department of Justice
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AG Cooper announces end to unlawful telemarketing by satellite firm

Release date: 7/12/2004

Raleigh: A California company pitching satellite television systems has been ordered to stop calling North Carolina consumers on the Do Not Call Registry, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.

“This company refused to listen to people’s wishes and ignored the law,” said Cooper. “Now, there is one less telemarketer making unwanted calls to people in North Carolina.”

Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning granted Cooper’s request today to stop Vitana Financial Group from making illegal telemarketing calls into North Carolina while a suit against the company moves forward. Cooper filed a complaint last month asking the court to permanently stop Vitana from making telemarketing calls in violation of state and federal laws and to require the company to pay fines.

As alleged in the complaint, California-based Vitana called North Carolina consumers whose numbers are listed on the Do Not Call Registry. The company, operating as Satellite Systems Network and Direct Satellite Network, made telemarketing calls with prerecorded pitches that promised consumers, “if you are able to get back with me right away, we will also include in your package a brand new home theatre with 6 speakers, a DVD player and a CD player as a free gift just for trying out the service.”

More than a dozen consumers complained to Cooper’s office about getting multiple prerecorded calls from Vitana at home and at work. Prerecorded telemarketing calls are illegal in North Carolina unless a live operator first asks if the consumer wants to hear the taped message. According to one consumer who complained about the calls, Vitana telemarketers left 10 messages on his office answering machine in just one day with the same prerecorded message.

Since North Carolina’s Do Not Call law took effect, Cooper’s office has received more than 2,800 written complaints from consumers who signed up for the Registry but are still receiving telemarketing phone calls. The Attorney General’s office is actively investigating complaints about several other companies and has taken action to stop a number of telemarketers from making calls illegally. Telemarketers have paid the state over $120,000 for violations to date. Consumers who have signed up can report telemarketers who call them to Cooper’s office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within the state or by visiting www.ncdoj.com .

A total of 1.9 million North Carolina numbers have been placed on the Registry since it began last summer. To sign up for the Registry, North Carolinians can go to www.nocallsnc.com or call 1-888-382-1222. Consumers who sign up for the Registry are protected by both state and federal law.

“Consumers shouldn’t have to deal with interruptions from telemarketers trying to sell them products they don’t want,” said Cooper. “My office means business when it comes to enforcing consumers’ rights.”