Mike Tonos 5/21/09
Miss. regulators target car warranty telemarketers
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JACKSON (AP) — Mississippi regulators are seeking a restraining order requiring telemarketers to halt unsolicited calls that warn people their automobile warranties are expiring and offer to sell them new service plans.
Officials in about 40 states are investigating the companies behind the car warranty calls and the Federal Trade Commission has filed a lawsuit against two companies and their executives, asking a federal court in Chicago to stop them.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has also asked for a federal investigation into the “robo-dialer harassment.”
Mississippi Public Service Commissioners Lynn Posey and Leonard Bentz said the calls are violating state law and the three-member PSC has joined the FTC’s investigation.
The commission has held a hearing regarding some of the alleged violations, Bentz said Thursday in a statement.
“The parties in question didn’t even bother to show up,” he said. “It is my belief that there is sufficient evidence to support a violation of the Mississippi Telephone Solicitation Act of 2003.”
Bentz said the attorney general’s office has been contacted for assistance in obtaining a restraining order that will require telemarketers to cease all calls. Attorney General Jim Hood has not commented on the request.
Consumers who have registered their telephone number on the Mississippi No-Call List and are still receiving telemarketing calls are encouraged to write down as much information as possible, then contact the Public Service Commission.
“This commission understands how the public feels about these illegal telemarketers,” Posey said in a news release. “I am committed to do everything within our power to bring these violators to justice.”
Officials say the calls have targeted consumers regardless of whether they have warranties or even own cars and ignore the Do Not Call registry. They say telemarketers have misrepresented service agreements consumers have to buy for warranties that come with the price of the car.
On the Net:
Mississippi Public Service Commission, http://www.psc.state.ms.us