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telemarketing-pest-_aleksandar_mijatovic_-_fotolia_largeEarlier this month, a federal court in Illinois ordered penalties totaling $280 million against Dish Network as a result of litigation brought by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for violating the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

The Court ruled that Dish Network repeatedly made calls to consumers on the Do Not Call list, made calls to people who had told Dish they did not want to receive calls, and knew its telemarketers were engaged in practices in violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule.

The National Do Not Call Registry is maintained by the FTC. When a consumer signs up for the list, businesses are prohibiting from making sales calls to them. Political calls, charitable calls, debt collection calls, informational calls, and telephone survey calls are allowed. This ruling sends a message to all businesses that they should be following the law. The Court also directed Dish Network to hire a telemarketing compliance expert to make sure future solicitation calls are made in accordance with the law.

This case also serves to show that, while some businesses do violate the law, most do not. And when they do, the FTC takes action. So who is behind all those other calls most consumers receive on a daily basis? Scammers! Most of the calls getting through to consumers are illegal spam calls, usually aimed at scamming the recipient out of money. The senders of these illegal robocalls can readily and cheaply use technology to gain access to phone numbers, even ones that are unlisted. Robocall senders then input these lists of numbers into a computer program to instantly send out a pre-recorded message via the internet. These programs even have the ability to falsify caller-ID information to mimic a more official-looking sender.

Remember: sign-up for the Do Not Call list. It won’t stop scammers from calling you but it does keep legitimate businesses from calling. For more tips on avoiding robocalls, check out our blog post: http://blog.mass.gov/consumer/massconsumer/how-to-combat-illegal-robocalls/

Read more about the decision here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/dish-dish and sign-up for the Do Not Call Registry here: https://www.donotcall.gov/

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.

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