BASKING RIDGE, NJ — Verizon Wireless today stepped up its fight against companies using illegal telemarketing tactics to sell auto warranties by updating a lawsuit originally filed in April and naming additional companies it believes are responsible for making unsolicited calls to its customers. And, for the first time, Verizon Wireless named a company it believes is providing telephone numbers used to make the unlawful calls.
Since late February, Verizon Wireless customers and employees have received more than 8 million illegal calls offering auto warranties. On certain days, those calls came in at a rate of more than 100,000 per hour – or one call every 0.06 seconds – from the same number, indicating the use of an autodialer to make the calls.
“These telemarketers continue to prey on our customers using illegal methods to reach them on their wireless phones,” said Steven E. Zipperstein, vice president and general counsel at Verizon Wireless. “This litigation is aimed not just at the telemarketers, but also at those who enable their unlawful conduct with technological assistance. We will not rest until they stop invading our customers’ privacy.”
OnStar, which provides wireless connections to emergency services to millions of vehicles in the United States using the Verizon Wireless network, joined the lawsuit as its customers’ vehicles received more than 400,000 telemarketing calls during the same time period. Although some of these calls were received by OnStar’s customers, most of the calls were automatically answered by the OnStar equipment in customer vehicles. The calls to OnStar-equipped vehicles must be answered because of the nature of OnStar’s emergency services, causing significant damages.
The lawsuit names three classes of defendant:
- Caller Defendants: These companies are alleged to be placing the calls to Verizon Wireless and OnStar customers and include: VoiceTouch, Inc. of Daytona Beach, Fla., and Tele Europe B.V., based in the Netherlands.
- Advertiser Defendants: These six companies are alleged to be offering and selling the auto warranties and include: Transcontinental Warranty, Inc., based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Direct Protect Warranty, based in Irvine, Calif.; and Dealers Preferred Warranties, LLC, Dealer Warranty Services, Inc., Dealer Warranty, LLC and National Dealers Warranty, Inc., all based near St. Louis, Mo.
- Facilitator Defendants: These companies are alleged to provide the Caller Defendants with numerous telephone numbers that appear as the caller ID when the calls are received. The Caller Defendants often change the caller IDs on a regular basis to obscure their identities as well as the identities of the companies on whose behalf the calls are being made. The Facilitator Defendants include: Telephone Management Corporation and TM Caller ID, based in Portland, Ore., which appear to be linked as a single company.
Filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court in Trenton, N.J., this lawsuit amends a complaint filed in April 2009 and alleges violations of the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which makes it illegal to use an autodialer to make calls to wireless phones, as well as state fraud and privacy laws. Verizon Wireless and OnStar are seeking permanent injunctions against these companies as well as monetary damages.
Since 2004, Verizon Wireless has brought nearly 20 lawsuits against wireless spammers, telemarketers and pretexters, and the company’s record of protecting customer privacy puts the company at the forefront of the U.S. wireless industry. Over the past several years, Verizon Wireless has won permanent injunctions against individuals and companies that have engaged in illegal telemarketing and text message spamming to Verizon Wireless customers and against those who have attempted to obtain information about Verizon Wireless customers to sell to third parties. On behalf of its customers, Verizon Wireless has donated more than $100,000 to domestic violence prevention, law enforcement and other non-profit organizations as a result of these settlements.
About Verizon Wireless Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s most reliable and largest wireless voice and data network, serving more than 86.6 million customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with more than 86,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). For more information, visit 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.