A lead generation business in the solar industry, with companies operating under multiple names, has settled with the FTC the charge that it violated the TSR. The companies, operated by brothers Francisco and Julio Salvat, placed millions of illegal calls to consumers listed on the Do Not Call Registry. Under the terms of the settlement, the Salvat brothers are permanently banned from all telemarketing and required to pay a $155,000 fine.
The accused, Francisco Salvat owned lead generation companies under the names KFJ Marketing, Sunlight Solar Leads LLC, and Go Green Education. His call centers used the National Do Not Call Registry (DNC) as their own personal contact list for placing millions of illegal telemarketing calls. From those calls, leads were generated which they then sold to businesses in the solar industry.
According to the initial complaint announced in March 2016, telemarketers used an autodialer to call consumers on the DNC and warn them of a purported 14% increase in their energy bills. Then, while passing themselves off as working for a non-profit organization, offered to help the concerned consumers save money on their energy bills. Once the bait was taken, the contacts became leads which were sold to solar panel installation companies.
To conceal their identity from consumers, phony Caller ID information was transmitted. The companies also chose not to honor individual requests not to receive more calls.
“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
The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice charged the Salvat brothers with violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) when they illegally called consumers whose numbers were listed on the DNC Registry.
The court order announced in the FCC’s press release on November 8th, 2017 stated that Francisco Salvat and his companies violated the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule by:
- Calling consumers whose numbers are on the DNC Registry
- Continuing to call consumers who had previously asked not to be called
- Failing to transmit accurate Caller ID information
- Making illegal robocalls.
The court order imposed a civil penalty of $1.4 million against the Salvat brothers, which will be partially suspended upon payment of $155,000. The reduced payment is under the condition that the brothers’ testimony and financial records that they provided are truthful. The order also permanently bans Francisco Salvat and his companies from further telemarketing.
Tips for Reducing Your Risk
Operating a telemarketing business involves the risk of facing fines and lawsuits. Here are a few simple things you can do to significantly reduce your risk:
- Always scrub call data against national and state Do Not Call lists
- Always honor and promptly process opt-out requests
- Only transmit accurate Caller ID information (i.e. numbers that you actually own)
- Only use pre-recorded voice messages if you have proper, well-documented consent
- Always try to resolve consumer complaints personally, before they reach a state or federal agency. If a customer asks for a refund, more often than not, it is best to give their money back.
Never settle for less than the best when it comes to protecting your business. Contact Center Compliance is an award winning cloud-based compliance solutions provider. Our team will work with your business to identifying solutions that enable your call center to easily adhere to the latest DNC and TCPA regulations in a method that is both efficient and cost effective.