Tuesday, November 25, 2003

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Attorney General Abbott Sues To Stop ' Texas No-Call ' Violators

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced the filing of 15 lawsuits today against telemarketing businesses that are in violation of the "Texas No-Call" law. The suits allege the companies harassed consumers at home, calling them repeatedly with high-pressure sales pitches.

Nearly 1 million consumers have signed up to be on the "do not call" list, according to the Texas Public Utility Commission, which administers Texas No-Call. The Attorney General's lawsuits seek temporary and permanent injunctions to stop these unlawful calls, and thousands of dollars in fines, penalties and attorneys' fees.

"With the help of the PUC, we are taking tough legal action against telemarketers that snubbed their noses at this law by failing to honor Texas consumers' requests not to be called," said Attorney General Abbott. "These telemarketers have violated the law and will pay the consequences. Let this serve as a warning. We are serious about enforcing this law."

Consumers have complained about a variety of continuing nuisance calls from businesses and about the products and services they hawk by phone. Defendants named in today's suits represent a variety of businesses and services, including:
  • Financial planning services for seniors

  • Personal dating services

  • Home improvement (e.g., vinyl house siding, roofing, insulation, etc.)

  • Auto sales or repair services (glass, used car financing)

  • Computer repair

  • Carpeting, upholstery and duct-cleaning services

  • Recreational timeshares
Consumers began signing up for the Texas No-Call registry in January 2002 as a first step toward stopping unwanted telemarketing calls to their homes. During the 2003 legislative session, changes to the law made it possible for consumers to add their cell phone numbers to this list.

The first No Call list of consumers became mandatory for telemarketers to purchase in April 2002. Beginning in July 2002, they were prohibited from calling consumers whose names appeared on the lists.

The defendants named in today's lawsuits are subject to fines of up to $1,000 for each telephone call made in violation of this law, and up to $3,000 per violation if the telephone calls were made in knowing violation of the law.

The law exempts certain businesses and organizations:
  • businesses that have a prior or existing relationship with the consumer

  • calls for charitable contributions and political campaigns

  • debt collectors calling about an outstanding debt

  • calls made by a state licensee (for example, an insurance company), if the caller does not use an automated-dial call, and the solicited transaction is not completed over the phone
The Texas No-Call statute, or the Texas Telemarketing Disclosure and Privacy Act, was authored by Rep. Burt Solomons (R-Carrollton) during the 2001 legislative session. The law gives enforcement authority to the PUC and the Attorney General under the Texas Telemarketing Disclosure and Privacy Act and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Consumers may file complaints against telemarketers by calling the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division hotline at 800-252-8011, or the PUC's Customer Protection hotline at 888-782-8477.

View list of defendants

View Petitions