Together with the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission filed suit against an individual defendant and his companies to halt a telemarketing operation that allegedly promised consumer energy savings using illegal robocalls.

Prerecorded calls made by the defendants stated: "This is an urgent call about your energy bill" and "stop the 14% increase coming soon," encouraging consumers to "press one" to lower their electric bills. If a consumer did so, he or she was transferred to a telemarketer who asked if the consumer was interested in solar panels.

Those who replied in the affirmative then provided their contact information, which the defendants in turn sold as leads to solar panel installation companies, the FTC and DOJ said. Consumers who requested not to be called again were often ignored, the federal agencies alleged.

Francisco Salvat's telemarketing operation—including business entities KFJ Marketing, Sunlight Solar Leads, and Go Green Education—violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule by continuing to call consumers who asked not to be called again, calling consumers on the federal Do Not Call Registry, failing to transmit accurate caller ID information, and making illegal robocalls, according to the complaint.

The California federal court lawsuit seeks a permanent ban on the alleged illegal conduct and civil penalties.

"Mr. Salvat's companies ignored the Do Not Call Registry and made illegal robocalls," Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement about the action. "Breaking the law isn't a great way for a company to introduce itself to potential customers."

To read the complaint in United States v. KFJ Marketing, click here.

Why it matters: The federal complaint filed by the DOJ and FTC claims the defendants violated the TSR in four different ways: placing an estimated 1.3 million calls to customers on the federal Do Not Call Registry, spoofing their caller ID information by transmitting phony data so consumers could not ascertain the true source of the call, continuing to call consumers who had already asked the defendants to stop, and making illegal robocalls.