The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is seeking a temporary restraining order against a Novato, Calif.-based Web site operator to immediately stop making deceptive claims that consumers can pre-register with the FTC's national telemarketing "Do Not Call" registry.
The FTC filed the complaint against Ken Chase, doing business as Free Do Not Call List.org and National Do Not Call List.US. According to the complaint, consumers who respond to Chase's claims and attempt to pre-register for the FTC's Do Not Call Registry receive an e-mail stating that their pre-registration has been received and that their information will been transmitted to the FTC as soon as the list becomes available.
The Free Do No Call List Web site also allegedly directs consumers who want to stop receiving telemarketing calls to what it describes as "the Active list" at National Do Not Call List.US. Once there, the complaint alleges that consumers are told that by subscribing to the service they can stop receiving such calls, as well as unsolicited faxes and junk mail. The cost for the service is between $9.99 and $17.99 per year. This site allegedly also falsely claims that it can place consumers on the FTC's Do Not Call registry.
The FTC's registry will accept consumer registrations beginning this summer. Anyone who wants to place their telephone number on the list must register from their own phone or through a federal government Web site. Registration will be free.
The complaint charges Chase with deceptively representing to consumers that the two sites can arrange for consumers' telephone numbers to be placed on the Commission's Do Not Call Registry, in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.
In addition, the FTC says that the Chase's claims that the Web sites can be used to sign up for the registry are likely to cause consumers to provide their personal identifying information, and in the case of NDNCL.US, to subscribe to its service. The FTC also contends it is possible that consumers who sign up via one of the two Web sites would reasonably think their names would be included in the national registry and that they would not need to sign up on their own.
"These scam artists are seizing on the public's interest in the Do Not Call Registry," said Howard Beales, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "But the law doesn't allow third party profiteers to be in the do not call business. In fact, come this summer, it will be up to individual consumers to register their own phone numbers, for free, on the one and only bona fide national Do Not Call registry."
The FTC will announce the Web site URL for online registration and the toll-free number in July. As of October, it will be illegal for most telemarketers to call a number listed on the registry.