State, feds go after auto warranty calls

2009-05-16T00:00:00Z State, feds go after auto warranty callsPatrick Guinane
patrick.guinane@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078
nwitimes.com

INDIANAPOLIS | The phone rings with a recorded message warning that an auto warranty is about to expire.

Press a button and on the line comes a "warranty specialist" claiming to be affiliated with a car dealer of manufacturer. Ask a few probing questions, and the specialist promptly hangs up.

Sound familiar? If it doesn't, consider yourself lucky.

The Federal Trade Commission filed a federal lawsuit Thursday in Chicago to stop a telemarketing firm accused of making thousands of illegal calls and a warranty company accused of deceiving customers who were led to believe they being offered a factory warranty extension.

"This is one of the most aggressive telemarketing schemes the FTC has ever encountered," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement. "I'm not sure which is worse: the abusive telemarketing tactics of these companies, or the way they try to deceive people once they get them on the phone. Either way, we intend to shut them down."

The federal suit names Voice Touch Inc. as the primary telemarketer and Transcontinental Warranty Inc. as the warranty firm. Both companies are based in Florida.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed a separate suit Thursday in Marion County against Transcontinental Warranty Inc. The complaint accused the company of calling Hoosiers on Indiana Do Not Call list and violating the state's ban on automated dialing machines.

It's the third telemarketing lawsuit Zoeller has filed this month. The companies face fines of up to $25,000 per illegal call.

Zoeller's office has received more than 500 autodialer and Do Not Call complaints since January, while the Federal Trade Commission reported 30,000 complaints linked to five phone numbers allegedly used by the firms being sued.

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