FTC Sues Dish Network for Telemarketing Violations

Dennis Faas's picture

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is suing Dish Network for breaching rules on telemarketing calls. The government agency claims the satellite TV firm made millions of unsolicited telephone calls aimed at making sales.

Some of the people covered by the new complaint were on the "National Do Not Call Registry," a central resource set up in 2004 to prevent unsolicited telemarketing phone calls to consumers who want their privacy.

Most for-profit companies are banned from calling telephone numbers on the Do No Call list.

The FTC had already complained that Dish Network called people listed on the National Do Not Call Registry. That complaint led to an ongoing lawsuit by the Department of Justice.

Telemarketing Rules: No Means No

This newest lawsuit involves the FTC's own Telemarketing Sale Rule, which says that companies making marketing calls must maintain and respect a list of people who have specifically told them not to call again.

Companies must not call people on these lists, regardless of whether or not they are also on the national "Do Not Call" registry.

According to the FTC's lawsuit, since 2007 Dish Network has "engaged in initiating millions of outbound telephone calls" to people who had previously asked the company not to contact them.

The lawsuit also claims third-party telemarketing agencies had made millions of calls to people on behalf of Dish Network. (Source: ftc.gov)

Dish Network Facing Heavy Fines

If the FTC prevails in this case, Dish Network could pay a heavy price. The lawsuit asks that Dish Network be forced to pay a monetary civil penalty for every specific breach of the Telemarketing Sale Rule.

It suggests a fine of $11,000 for every violation before February 2009, and $16,000 for every violation afterwards. Theoretically, these fines could run into tens of billions of dollars.

The FTC lawsuit also asks for a permanent injunction against Dish Network. If granted, such an injunction would convert any future breach of these same rules into a more serious violation, carrying an even higher penalty.

Dish Network denies the claims and says it will defend the lawsuit. It says a third-party expert has previously audited its telemarketing plan and found no violations. (Source: yahoo.com)

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