FTC ready to act on car warranty robocalls

The Federal Trade Commission is close to taking legal action against companies responsible for the thousands of computerized car warranty calls reaching consumers nationwide, according to a letter from the agency chairman to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY).

The robocalls, which warn of expiring car warranties and pitch sales of new extended warranties, have been hitting cell phones and landlines even if a consumer is already listed on the National Do Not Call Registry. 

In a letter to Chairman Jon Leibowitz earlier this week, Schumer called on the FTC to take immediate steps to clamp down on the companies behind the calls and determine whether they violated any laws enforced by the FTC.

In a press conference today, Schumer and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, who have each received such calls, released Leibowitz’ response.

“While all Commission investigations are non-public, let me assure you that the Commission is very much aware of the problem that prompted your letter,” Leibowitz wrote to Schumer. “Law enforcement action in this area can be expected imminently.”

Leibowitz also noted the FTC had placed a button on its Web site homepage to enable people to lodge a complaint on the calls.

“It’s about time these robocalls were terminated,” Schumer said in a press release today. “This prompt, aggressive action by the FTC should provide a bit of relief to the Americans besieged by these fraudulent calls. Almost everyone knows someone who’s received these calls. It’s about time we find out who’s behind them, and put a stop to this harassment.

“In addition to violating the ‘Do Not Call List’ law, these scammers are peddling phony car warranties that exploit consumers,” Warner said in the release.

The Associated Press reported that the calls have prompted about 300,000 inquiries and 4,000 complaints nationwide over the past two years, according to the Better Business Bureau, and 40 states are investigating the companies behind the calls.

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