AG settles over Do-Not-Call violations
Last updated 12/27/2017 at 8:30pm
Attorney General Josh Shapiro has announced a $50,000 settlement with Sperian Energy Corp, a retail energy supplier that violated Pennsylvania’s Do-Not-Call Law and called Pennsylvanians on the list who do not want to receive these kinds of calls.
Sperian, a Nevada company, will pay $50,000 to the Office of Attorney General as part of the settlement. 80 Pennsylvania consumers who filed complaints with the Bureau of Consumer Protection about the unsolicited phone calls will receive a total of $8,000 as part of the settlement, or $100 apiece. The remaining funds will go to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Treasury and the Office of Attorney General.
“If a Pennsylvania resident registers their phone number on the Pennsylvania ‘Do-Not-Call’ List, it’s illegal to call them,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Every company is obligated to comply with the Do-Not-Call Law, and Sperian failed to comply. These invasive telemarketing calls are a growing problem and we take enforcement of the Do-Not-Call Law seriously.”
In 2017, 25 percent of all complaints to the Bureau of Consumer Protection are from consumers complaining they are on the Do-Not-Call List – and still get unwanted solicitation calls. Among seniors, the percentage of complaints filed about this problem is 34 percent. “This is the number one issue that Pennsylvania consumers complain about to my office,” Attorney General Shapiro said.
The Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection investigation revealed Sperian and its telemarketers called Pennsylvania residents whose telephone numbers were registered on the Pennsylvania “Do-Not-Call” List.
“I was dismayed and annoyed that I was called by Sperian Energy and its vendors after registering on the Pennsylvania ‘Do-Not-Call’ List,” said central Pennsylvania resident Kathleen McMaster, a victim of the illegal Sperian calls.
The consumer protection investigation revealed that prior to conducting its telemarketing campaigns, Sperian did not subscribe to the Pennsylvania “Do-Not-Call” List, as required by state law. In addition, many consumers reported that calls from Sperian or its vendors appeared on their caller IDs as calls being made from inside Pennsylvania. However, those calls were made from call centers outside of Pennsylvania -- a misleading tactic.
Spoofing phone calls to mislead consumers is a growing national problem. Attorney General Shapiro and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission last month, asking the FCC to finalize new rules to protect Americans from illegal robocalls and allow phone companies to block certain numbers that cannot make outgoing calls. The FCC subsequently issued these new rules, a victory for consumers.
As part of the terms of the settlement, Sperian and its telemarketing vendors will be required to comply with the Pennsylvania Telemarketer Registration Act, including not calling PA residents with phone numbers on the “Do-Not-Call” List.
Those who are on the Pennsylvania “Do-Not-Call” List and receive unwanted and unsolicited calls from telemarketers, should contact the Office of Attorney General Bureau of Consumer Protection at 800-441-2555 or email@example.com.
The settlement, called an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, was filed recently in the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court by Deputy Attorney General Brandon Bingle.