FTC: Court Shuts No-Call Scheme

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A federal judge in Phoenix ordered a company that charged consumers $399 for a fraudulent privacy protection service to shut down, the Federal Trade Commission said yesterday.

Vector Direct Marketing, Tempe, AZ, told consumers -- many of them elderly -- in telemarketing sales pitches that their personal information, including Social Security and bank account numbers, was available for sale on telemarketing lists, the FTC said. It offered to have their information removed from such lists.

Some consumers received a $34.95 call-screening device for their money, the FTC said. Vector falsely told some of these consumers that the company would use the screening device to monitor calls to the consumers, fine telemarketers $1,500 for calls and pass the fines onto the consumers, according to the FTC's complaint.

Vector also billed consumer bank and credit card accounts without permission, the FTC said. Consumers who stopped or reversed payments to Vector received harassing and intimidating calls from the company.

In addition to ordering Vector to cease these operations, the judge issued an $811,000 fine against the company, suspended due to its inability to pay. Vector also is prohibited from sharing its customer lists.

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