FTC Reaches Settlement With Home Security Company that Called Millions of Consumers on the National Do Not Call Registry
The Federal Trade Commission, with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice, has settled a complaint against a Massachusetts-based home security company that illegally called millions of consumers on the FTC?s National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry to pitch home security systems.
According to the FTC, Versatile Marketing Solutions (VMS), under the guidance of its owner, Jasjit Gotra, called millions of consumers whose names and phone numbers VMS bought from lead generators. The lead generators claimed that those consumers had given VMS permission to contact them about the installation of a free home security system, but in reality, they had not. In its complaint, the FTC alleges that the defendants? tactics violated the Commission?s Telemarketing Sales Rule.
The sales leads were obtained by illegal means through rampant use of robocalls from ?Tom with Home Protection,? fake survey calls, and calls to phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. According to the complaint, VMS subsequently called these consumers without first checking to see if they had registered their telephone numbers on the DNC Registry.
In addition, the complaint alleges that VMS ignored warning signs that the lead generators were engaged in illegal telemarketing practices. For example, many consumers contacted by VMS complained that they had not given the company permission to call, nor had they given permission to receive a robocall. Despite mounting complaints, VMS continued buying leads from the same lead generators, and calling consumers using those leads.
?Companies that use lead generators must exercise due diligence when they buy lists of phone numbers,? said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC?s Bureau of Consumer Protection, ?or else they can be on the hook for illegal telemarketing. Relying on a say-so that the numbers were obtained legally, or that the consumers have agreed to be called, even if their numbers are on the Do Not Call Registry, isn?t enough.?
According to the complaint, between November 2011 and July 2012, VMS made more than two million calls to consumers to try to sell home security goods and services. Of those calls, at least one million were to phone numbers listed on the DNC Registry, and more than 100,000 were to consumers who had previously told VMS not to call them again ? another violation of the DNC rules.
The stipulated final court order settling the charges prohibits VMS and Gotra from making abusive telemarketing calls and from calling any consumer whose number is on the DNC Registry, unless they can prove that they have received written permission to make the call or that they have an established business relationship with that consumer. Further, it bars defendants from calling any consumer who has previously told VMS not to call them again. The order also places restrictions on how defendants can obtain and use lead-generated phone numbers in the future.
Finally, the order imposes a $3.4 million penalty judgment against the defendants, with all but $320,700 suspended due to their inability to pay. The entire amount will become due if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.
The court settlement announced today resolves the FTC?s complaint against Versatile Marketing Solutions, Inc. also doing business as VMS Alarms, VMS, Alliance Security, and Alliance Home Protection; and its owner, Jasjit Gotra.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to refer the civil penalty complaint to the Department of Justice, and to approve the proposed consent decree, was 4-0. The DOJ filed the complaint and proposed consent decree on behalf of the Commission in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on March 10, 2014. The proposed consent decree is subject to court approval.
NOTE: The Commission authorizes the filing of a complaint when it has ?reason to believe? that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. Consent judgments have the force of law when signed by a district court judge.
Information for Consumers and Business
The FTC has a new blog post for consumers on the DNC Registry, as well as two consumer education videos explaining robocalls and describing what consumers should do when they receive one. The Commission also has a new blog with business education information. General information on the DNC Registry is also available on the website.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC?s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC?s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.
Starting several years ago, I have recieved on a daily basis- phone calls from Thomas Home Protection, recently the same voice indicated something about a health survey- when I asked their name, they laughedand repeated my words. This person sounds dangerious. I traced the call and got-253-246-8552.
they need to stop calling my parents house they are really upsetting my dad and he has medical issues that we do not need people harrasing him.
my dad feels the same way if we all ban together maybe this could be put to rest
Tom from Home Protection. They call our number 2 or 3 times every day. I'm reporting them to attorney general in our state. Sick of these people.
They called me once offering a "free" security system. I to.d him i didn't need it as i have an alarm & 4 dogs ... They have not called me back. Idiots.
Called to my cell. When answered they hung up...telemarketer? I'm on a "no-call" list. Why do they infringe on my privacy rights?
You moth******ers get ou of mi life slims,
He won't stop calling
Offer for special monitoring rate.
Just a RING, useless Call, NO MESSAGE Blocked forever. (253) 246-8552
My HTC Evo 3D has a built in Block Caller List... I got a call from this number once, they hung up and I googled it. Found this thread and added it to my Block List. :)
unwanted phone call
Continue to receive calls from this number even though my number is on the do not call list.
Tom B in Ohio
thank you Jennifer for the info. I called them at the number you provided and spoke with Sonny, supposedly the Regional Manager. Told them to KNOCK IT OFF.... in no uncertain terms. Sonny is a quick talking BS artist.
i to have goten strang calls it gust started today they have called twic it is a good thing that my phone is locked so i codent anwser it and i had texted them hoo are you and what is your name and still no anwser
I have received calls on my cell phone for months. I finally came up with a solution that routs them to a no ring box.
After the first call I add them to my contacts like this.
1. I add the number for the name, Z 253 246 8552. (This puts them at the end of my contacts list)
2. then I set the ring tone to none. Since the call will be marked as missed it goes to the missed calls box
3. I set the missed calls box ring tone to none.
Now when they call back it just dies and I don't know about it till I look at my the next time. I just clear the calls and live life without them annoying me.
What is this 253 246 8552 crap!
I saw it on my missed calls, only two people have my cell number, so I called it and there is a recording that says, "You have reached NAK or Nek, you have been contacted by a marketing sales company if you wish to be added to their do not call list press X, .... I am not pressing any number for anything. WHat I want to know is how do these people get unlisted numbers that are on the do not call list and most importantly, What can we do about it?
Could be a burglary ring casing your home, check out http://www.crime-safety-security.com/home-security-scam-in.html so you know they are looking for when people are home, answering or not answering phones, etc. They don't stop and the DNC list is a joke, I get calls all the time from scammers with numerous pages on sites like this, one from CA has been calling for over 2 years, numerous complaints to DNC do no good. Hey, scammer from RI -- get it yet?
Number called but no answer was giving. I tried calling it back but theres no answer.
I have reported this to the do not call registry, which my cell is on. Ppl keep calling me with spam and s*** even though I'm on there.
These @$$holes have been calling me for months. I called them directly (at the number Tom provided) and asked to be taken off their call list, by the way, I am on the FTC Don Not Call List! It is supposedly up to a $16,000 fine per person they call? I would think the FTC would be all over this, seeing as how the Federal Gov't needs the money....
These people call at least twice a day and have been doing so for weeks. I have reported them to the DO NOT CALL Registry, but this is a waste of time. They have been calling on my mobile phone, and they seem to be able to get people's mobile phone numbers "no matter what." Don't understand why something cannot be done about this - it is pure harassment. Last time they called, they would not respond when I answered the call. I don't really have an answer, except to not answer the call. It would be nice if someone could figure out how to really do something about this telemarketer and let everyone know, so they could join the effort.
Just called back and press 1to be put on the do not call list hope this works.
Have received three calls from this number in the past day, never answered, never left a message.
The caller keeps calling me from different numbers, multiple times per day. I tell them not interested and remove me but it doesnt make a difference. He makes me want to throw my phone out the window on the freeway!! SO frustrating!!!
no message left .... calls numerous times
my number is registered with the DNC list
Got one this morning around 9:30 am. I screen my calls and if I don't recognize the number, I let the answering machine kick in. Then do a reverse number lookup to see where it's coming from. This one was in Kent, Washington (Puget Sound/Greater Seattle area), but that's all the "free" info I could get. Next step was simply google it, and I found this thread. Thanks so much for the info, I've now added it to my call rejection list.
Too many phone calls, even when asked not to call.