Wireless Spam Scheme Targeted By Verizon Wireless

BEDMINSTER, NJ — Verizon Wireless has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, seeking an injunction against Passport Holidays of Ormond Beach, FL for violating federal and state laws by sending tens of thousands of unsolicited text messages to Verizon Wireless customers.

Verizon Wireless filed the suit in federal court in Trenton after more than 98,000 unsolicited short text messages were sent last month to Verizon Wireless customers on behalf of Passport Holidays, informing customers they supposedly had won a cruise to the Bahamas and asking them to call to claim their prize. Passport Holidays and other currently unknown individuals who are alleged to have assisted in sending out the spam are named as defendants in the suit.

The lawsuit alleges that Passport Holidays and others violated the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act by using "auto-dialing" equipment to send large bursts of text messages to sequential phone numbers within very short periods of time. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that the defendants used deceptive means to hide the identity of the party sending the spam messages and to avoid filters that Verizon Wireless employs to prevent spam from reaching its customers.

Verizon Wireless has long championed its customers' rights to privacy and a "spam-free" wireless environment. The court filing is the latest in a series of innovative and aggressive consumer protection lawsuits filed by Verizon Wireless. Last year, Verizon Wireless obtained an injunction against a Rhode Island spammer who had been sending numerous text message solicitations to Verizon Wireless customers. This summer, Verizon Wireless sued telemarketing firms based in Florida and California, forcing them to stop making illegal sales calls to wireless customers. The company also secured a court order halting a Tennessee-based company's illegal practice of using fraudulent means to obtain and sell confidential customer telephone records. Most recently, Verizon Wireless obtained an injunction and a seizure order against another Florida-based outfit that had been attempting to obtain private customer information through illegal and fraudulent practices.

About Telemarketing And Cell Phones

Federal Communications Commission regulations prohibit the use of automated dialers to call, or to send unsolicited text messages to, cell phone numbers. Automated dialers are standard in the telemarketing industry; so most telemarketers are barred from calling consumers on their cell phones without their consent. Customers can file a complaint by e-mail to donotcall@fcc.gov, telephone 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY, or mail. The complaint should include:

  • Name, address, and telephone number where the complainant can be reached during the business day;

  • The telephone number involved with the complaint; and

  • As much specific information as possible, including the identity of the telemarketer or company contacting you, the date on which you placed your number on the national Do Not Call registry or made a company-specific do-not-call request, and the dates of any subsequent telemarketing calls from that telemarketer or company.

If mailing a complaint, send it to: Federal Communications Commission; Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau; Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division; 445 12th Street, SW; Washington D.C. 20554.

Customers who want to add their cell phone number to the national Do Not Call registry may do so by calling toll-free 1-888-382-1222 from the telephone number they wish to register, or online at www.donotcall.gov. Registrations become effective within 31 days of signing up and are active for five years. There is no cut-off date or deadline for registrations. Business-to-business calls are not covered under the registry.

About Verizon WirelessVerizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 49.3 million voice and data customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.