Attorney General Roy Cooper has filed suit against an alarm system company that made illegal robocalls to numbers listed on the Do Not Call Registry. The case comes 10 years after the Registry first began protecting consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls.
Do Not Call complaints were the top source of consumer complaints to Cooper’s office last year, especially robocalls, which are automatically dialed, pre-recorded telemarketing calls. 6,126 consumers filed Do Not Call complaints with Cooper’s office in 2012, mostly about robocalls. So far in 2013, consumers have filed nearly 3,200 Do Not Call complaints with Cooper’s office and approximately 75 percent of those complaints were about robocalls.
Cooper has filed suit against ISI Alarms NC, Inc. and owner William Jason Waller of Iredell County, seeking civil penalties for illegal robocalls the company made to North Carolina consumers. ISI Alarms is no longer operating but Cooper wants to make sure it pays for violating telemarketing laws. State law allows penalties of up to $5,000 per Do Not Call violation.
Cooper’s complaint alleges that thousands of such calls were placed to North Carolina home and cell telephone numbers on behalf of ISI Alarm during the past two years, and that the company saw its sales quadruple as a result. The automated message prompted consumers to press a certain number to learn more about recent crimes in their area. Consumers were then transferred to a call center and heard a pitch for the company’s home alarm system and alarm monitoring services. The automated message gave listeners the option to press a different number to stop the calls, which consumers said did not work.
Under both state and federal laws, it’s illegal to make most commercial telemarketing calls to home and mobile telephone numbers listed on the Do Not Call Registry. North Carolina law offers additional protections from robocalls, making sales calls that use recorded messages illegal even if you haven’t joined the Registry.
More than 6.4 million North Carolina telephone numbers are currently on the Do Not Call Registry. Since Do Not Call laws began protecting consumers in October 2003, Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division has taken action against more than 30 companies that have broken the law, making violators pay more than $1 million in civil penalties and refunds.
To protect yourself if you receive unwanted robocalls:
The latest top source of Do Not Call complaints to Cooper’s office is robocalls pitching a medic alert. More than 500 North Carolina consumers have reported getting these calls since June 1. The Consumer Protection Division is investigating and suspects the calls are a ruse to steal money or bill health insurance providers for unnecessary medical devices. Cooper encourages people to report the calls.