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Company to pay $7.5 million in telemarketing case

The FTC is sending a clear message that it means business with the Do Not Call registry. The record penalty will be paid by a mortgage broker that targeted military families.

By Mitch Lipka Jul 1, 2013 11:11AM
Angry businessman (© Imagesource/Corbis)While millions of Americans still get those annoying calls, including recorded messages from "Cardholder Services" pitching a last chance at getting a credit card interest rate reduction, at least someone's getting in trouble for making them.

The Federal Trade Commission, which is in charge of enforcing the Do Not Call law, announced the settlement of several cases against "Cardholder Services" perpetrators as well as a record fine of $7.5 million against a company that tried to sell mortgages to veterans. The announcements of the actions coincided with the 10th anniversary of the national Do Not Call list.

"Since the advent of Do Not Call, the FTC has been aggressive in cracking down on violators and preventing annoying, illegal calls to consumers," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. "Today’s settlements leave no doubt that DNC enforcement remains a top priority."

About 221 million people are signed up on the Do Not Call Registry.

The FTC accused Mortgage Investors Corp. of calling people who were on the Do Not Call registry, not removing those who asked to be removed from their marketing call list, and providing misleading information to those it called. The company is now facing the largest ever fine assessed by the FTC for Do Not Call violations.

Mortgage Investors Corp. is accused of calling more than 5.4 million numbers that were on the Do Not Call Registry in an attempt to try to get current and former service members to refinance their homes.

Callers were led to believe that they would get low-interest loans with fixed interest rates with no added costs, the FTC alleged. However, the rates were escalating and the consumer would have to pay the closing costs. And, the FTC said, Mortgage Investors'  telemarketers provided inaccurate information about the company's relationship with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The company agreed to settle the charges by paying the fine and to stop:
  • Refusing to honor Do Not Call requests.
  • Calling those already on the Do Not Call list.
  • Misleading consumers about mortgage terms.
  • Misrepresenting its relationships with government agencies.
The FTC went after the "Cardholder Services" robocallers late last year for illegally making robocalls, calling those who are on the Do Not Call list and charging money upfront for financial services. Five complaints were filed in those cases resulting in judgments of $47,000 to $3.9 million along with a variety of sanctions.

Once your number is on the Do Not Call list it remains there. There is no expiration.

If you get a call that you believe is in violation of the Do Not Call law, you can file a complaint on the Do Not Call site.
However, not all annoying telemarketing calls are illegal. Calls from political organizations, charities, as well as from those conducting surveys are exempt. In addition, companies you have done business with can call you for up to 18 months after a purchase.

However, for those calls, you may tell the telemarketer you want to stop receiving those calls and they must honor that request. The FTC recommends you document the date of the request.

More from MSN Money:

Jul 1, 2013 12:05PM
Thank you FTC for finally doing your damn job!!!!!!!!! I'ts about time :)
Jul 1, 2013 1:01PM

Now all we need is a do not E-Mail registry

Jul 1, 2013 12:38PM
Sock it to em. And then lets go after the politicians and charities.
Jul 1, 2013 1:57PM
That's a good start, but there's loopholes that need closed. When I don't want to be called, that means among other things, politicians at election time. But, when you make the laws, it shouldn't include the one writing them........
Jul 2, 2013 6:06PM
just wish it was about 5 time the amount to  card holder services. I am so feed up with then and the banks. I like to see chase be fine for call also. One billion would be a good place to start with them!!!!!!
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