The Federal Trade Commission recently dropped the hammer on telemarketing company VMS, slapping it with $3.4 million in fines after it failed to heed the National Do Not Call Registry.
"Over a million customers were called who were on the Do Not Call list," said FTC official Robert Anguizola, according to NBC's "Today" show
. "In addition to that, VMS employed lead generators who were placing millions of illegal robocalls in trying to assemble its customer list."
VMS was investigated by the FTC after the "Today" show's Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen highlighted the company as one of the worst offenders shirking the Do Not Call law in a report two years ago.
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The report followed several citizens who had filed complaints against the company, complaints the FTC said are on the rise year over year.
According to the department, there were 1.6 million complaints against telemarketers in 2010, and by 2011 complaints jumped to 2.2 million and 3.7 million in 2013. Cheaper calling rates, new technologies, and a growing disregard for the law are fueling the rise in unwanted calls, and the FTC hopes the new fines will discourage other companies from shirking the national list.
Jay Gotra, the president of VMS, was confronted by Rossen as he stepped out of his yellow Ferrari on his walk through the parking lot of his company's offices, and asked to explain what was going on. At the time, he said that his company only called people who've opted in to receive the calls.
The recent settlement between the FTC and VMS suggests, however, that Grota wasn't telling the full truth, as part of the settlement stipulates that VMS is "permanently restrained" from calling anyone on the National Do Not Call Registry, and will report to the department the steps it's taking to say in compliance.
"This is a victory for consumers," said Anguizola. "VMS and other marketers have to make sure they're not calling people on the Do Not Call list. They can't simply rely on the say-so of a vendor and just call people willy nilly."
The National Do Not Call list currently contains 223 million phone numbers, and grows daily.
To sign up for the list, visit www.DoNotCall.gov
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