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Verizon pursues illegal autodialers

The autodialing companies make millions of wireless calls pitching car warranties

April 28, 2009 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Verizon Wireless said today it that has settled a lawsuit against two companies that used autodialing systems to call its wireless customers to pitch extended vehicle warranties. It also announced a separate lawsuit to stop three other companies from similar acts.

The basis for Verizon's lawsuits is the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which makes it illegal to use an autodialer to make calls to wireless phones, Verizon said in a statement. Verizon has brought nearly 20 lawsuits against wireless spammers, telemarketers and others since 2004.

In the settlement, Verizon was awarded $50,000 from St. Louis-based National Auto Warranty Services and Florida-based Explicit Media, which does business as Voice Solutions. The money was donated to the Joyful Heart Foundation to support efforts to reduce domestic violence, Verizon said.

In the new lawsuit, which was filed today in Superior Court in New Jersey, Verizon charged Tele Europe BV, National Dealers Warranty and Dealers Warranty, which does business as Federal Auto Protection, with illegally using autodialing systems to reach Verizon Wireless customers. The first company is based in the Netherlands and the other two are based in Missouri.

In a statement, Steven Zipperstein, general counsel at Verizon Wireless, called the telemarketing calls "an annoyance to our customers [that] invades their privacy." In the lawsuit, Verizon said customers cannot find out who is making the calls.

In the lawsuit that was settled, Verizon said the autodialer deployed spoofing techniques to mask the origin of the calls. About 2 million calls were made illegally, Verizon contended.

Verizon settled a similar lawsuit against a Utah-based telemarketing company for $25,000 in March.

Read more about Mobile/Wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.

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