Auction Guide Marketers Pay $535K to Settle FTC Charges

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A company that sold government auction guides by telephone settled charges of issuing bills without authorization by agreeing Friday to pay $535,000 to refund consumers and post a $1 million bond before conducting more telemarketing.

Santa Barbara, CA-based Nationwide Information Service also agreed to be banned permanently from the sale of information guides. They were also permanently banned from selling their customer lists.

The company was charged in a June 2000 Federal Trade Commission sweep targeting fraudulent auction guide marketers.

According to the FTC, Nationwide Information Service charged consumer accounts without authorization and falsely represented that consumers could obtain refunds on request.

The FTC also alleged that Nationwide Information Service provided only general information on auction houses that was available for free in local phone directories, despite promises of regular updates and detailed listings on home and car auctions.

Shortly after the FTC filed the charges, a federal judge issued a restraining order freezing the company's assets and placing it into receivership.

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