Action planned to halt auto-warranty calls

n The PSC and the attorney general’s office want a judge to order an end to the telemarketing.
By Michael Tonos
Daily Journal
TUPELO – A fine of at least $950,000 could be levied against a company responsible for many of the auto-warranty telemarketing calls being made throughout the state.
Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley said Friday that the PSC and the state attorney general’s office will ask a Hinds County Circuit Court judge, possibly as early as next week, to order the company to stop the calls.
Presley declined to identify the company until the case is ready for court, but said it is responsible for about 95 of the 100 complaints his office has received about the calls.
“It’s the biggest amount of complaints we’ve received,” said Presley, who has been in office for about 15 months.
Other telemarketing outfits are involved as well, and about 500 complaints have been received statewide. The problem also has been reported in about 40 other states.
People are receiving the calls randomly by auto-dialer. An automated voice tells people that their car warranties might be expiring and offers a new service plan in exchange for credit card information.
“Even if they’re offering a legitimate service,” Presley said, “they’re still violating the no-call law because none are registered to make calls in the state.”
The company, Presley said, would be violating the state’s Telephone Solicitation Act if it is not registered to solicit in Mississippi, if calls made by an automatic dialer go to people on the “do not call” list, and if calls are received after 8 p.m.
Each violation, as determined by the PSC through hearings, carries a fine of $5,000 per call. Presley said the company is likely guilty of at least two offenses: not being registered and calling people on the no-call list. That would mean a fine of $10,000 per call.
The company also could be guilty of deceptive trade practices, which is one reason the attorney general’s office is involved.
Presley added that the company doesn’t have specific information on the people it calls. “They don’t know anything about your personal business,” he said.

Mike Tonos