By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The Mississippi Public Service Commission slapped an Arizona-based telemarketer with a $5.7 million penalty – the highest ever – for violating the state’s Do Not Call law.
Purchase Power Solutions, also called ELH Consulting and Proactive Planning Solutions, had never registered to do business in the state, never purchased the state’s Do Not Call list, and had called at least 396 people on that list, more than 200 of whom reside in the northern part of the state. It also used an automated dialing system with a recorded voice message to solicit business.
In all, the company racked up 1,141 violations, each punishable by a maximum $5,000 civil penalty.
“This is the largest fine ever, and we think it’s important to send that message,” said Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, who announced the fine Tuesday. “Yes, it’s a challenge to collect money, but believe it or not, we have.”
Messages to a company representative on Thursday were not returned.
This is not the first time Purchase Power Solutions or its aliases have irked state agencies. The Indiana Attorney General in February filed a legal complaint accusing the company of violating several of its state laws and asking for more than $250,000 in fines and reimbursement of all costs related to the investigation and prosecution.
According to that complaint, the company called people, claiming it could help them lower their credit card debt. It immediately charged them up to $995 on their credit cards if they agreed orally to join the company’s program.
“There was one victim in the northern district that was charged $800 and received a set of CDs in the mail and that was it,” Presley said.
The Daily Journal called several people who had filed complaints with the commission. Although they declined to be identified, all said they were glad the company got fined. But one said the calls still haven’t stopped.
“These people are already breaking the law, so they don’t have any qualms in breaking it again,” Presley said. “The best thing we can do is build these cases, get these judgments, and it starts affecting them in the pocketbook when they can’t sell property because there is a lien on it.”
The goal, he said, is to force them into compliance or shut them down.