FTC: Telemarketer Pays the Price in DNC Fine

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A Southern California-based mortgage broker will pay $50,000 under a court order filed today on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission for allegedly calling tens of thousands of consumers who are on the National Do Not Call Registry for telemarketers and for failing to pay the annual fee required to access the DNC Registry.

In addition, the company and its officers are permanently barred from violating the DNC provisions of the Telemarketing Sales Rule and from making illegal telemarketing calls in the future.

The filing made in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles settles the FTC's charges against: Executive Financial Home Loan Corp., d/b/a Executive Home Loan, a California corporation; Michael Nikravesh, individually and as an officer of Executive Financial Home Loan Corp.; and Ron Fattal, individually and as an officer of Executive Financial Home Loan Corp.

Although the defendants claimed they relied on service providers for their compliance with the DNC rules -- specifically by buying "lead lists" of telephone numbers from list brokers such as title companies -- the FTC stated it was not enough for them to rely on the brokers' claims that the lists had been properly "scrubbed" against the DNC Registry. A "scrubbed" list is one that has had all telephone numbers that are on the DNC Registry removed from it no more than thirty days before calls are placed. Further, although the defendants paid the brokers for the phone lists, they did not properly pay for access to numbers on the Registry, leading them to illegally call thousands of registered consumers.

"The bottom line is that telemarketers are responsible for complying with the Do Not Call provisions of the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and cannot hide behind the claims of their service providers," said Lydia B. Parnes, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement. "If a telemarketer purchases a 'scrubbed' list, they better make sure that it is current and squeaky clean or else they may be violating the law and subject to penalties."

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