Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced its settlement with “the ring leader of telemarketing operations that blasted illegal robocalls to consumers and called phone numbers listed on the National Do Not Call (“DNC”) Registry.” Pursuant to the terms of the settlement agreement, Justin Ramsey, founder of Prime Marketing LLC, agreed to pay a $2.2 million civil penalty. Ramsey, however, will only be responsible for $65,000 of the judgment due to representations concerning his inability to pay. Ramsey is permanently banned from robocalling any individual to sell goods or services, initiating sales calls to numbers on the DNC Registry, and selling data lists containing phone numbers contained on the DNC Registry. Ramsey has also agreed to comply with all state and federal telemarketing laws on a prospective basis.
How did Ramsey Violate Telemarketing Laws?
According to the FTC’s complaint filed this past January in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Ramsey and several co-defendants obtained consumer telephone numbers from public sources (such as yellowpages.com and 411.com), and then proceeded to place “millions of calls to phone numbers listed on the DNC Registry.” The FTC estimated that “[i]n just one week in July 2012 . . . the defendants made more than 1.3 million illegal robocalls to consumers nationwide, 80 percent of which were to numbers listed on the DNC Registry.” The FTC alleged that Ramsey admitted during a telephone call with a co-defendant that he intentionally called people on the DNC Registry. Ramsey is also alleged to have personally “set up the call center in Florida, managed the day-to-day operations of the call center, obtained leads of numbers to call, uploaded data onto a dialer, and initiated the calls using the dialer.”
Telemarketing Law Compliance is a Must
Despite administrative shifts in priority, the FTC remains vigilant in enforcing the Telemarketing Sales Rule. Earlier this year, we blogged about the FTC’s settlement of two major robocall lawsuits. A failure to comply with telemarketing laws can result in severe penalties and restrictions on how businesses may operate in the future. As such, Companies that are unfamiliar with telemarketing laws should consult with competent counsel before commencing any telemarketing campaign.