Two companies and their principals have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they violated the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) by calling telephone numbers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry and failing to pay the required fee for access to numbers listed on the Registry.
At the FTC’s request, the U. S. Department of Justice filed a complaint in federal court, alleging that on or after October 17, 2003, USA Home Loans Inc., a mortgage services company, and telemarketer USA First Investment Group Inc., violated the TSR while marketing mortgage products and services, including originating and refinancing home loans. According to the FTC’s complaint, USA Home Loans made calls to consumers, and, on its behalf, USA First Investment Group made calls to pre-qualify consumers for USA Home Loans offerings.
The settlement includes a $426,782 civil penalty against USA Home Loans Inc. and its owner, David Vach, which is suspended except for $35,000, contingent upon the accuracy and completeness of their financial statements, and an $85,356 civil penalty against USA First Investment Group Inc. and its principals, Richard Burnham and Vincent Piccione, which is suspended, contingent upon the accuracy and completeness of their financial statements. The defendants, all from Maryland, also are permanently prohibited from further TSR violations.
By a 5-0 vote, the Commission referred the matter to the U. S. Department of Justice for filing in federal court. The stipulated judgment and order for permanent injunction was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland on October 31.
The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection is committed to ensuring compliance with the National Do Not Call Registry. Consumers can sign up their phone number on the Registry either online at www.donotcall.gov or by calling toll-free 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236) from the number they wish to register.
NOTE: This stipulated final order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. A stipulated final order requires approval by thecourt and has the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the complaint and stipulated final order are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.htm. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
(FTC File No. X042-3148)