The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday it has filed lawsuits against three groups allegedly offering worthless credit card interest rate reduction programs through illegal automated calls.
The FTC said it is the second major law enforcement effort this year against telemarketers.
The cases announced Tuesday were filed in federal courts in Florida, Georgia and Illinois. They name Economic Relief Technologies LLC; Dynamic Financial Group (U.S.A.) Inc., and JPM Accelerated Services as defendants. Several affiliated companies and individuals were also named.
The FTC alleges the firms made illegal prerecorded automated calls to consumers claiming credit card interest rates could be lowered if consumers would pay upfront fees ranging from $495 to $1,495.
After getting the money, the FTC says the companies did not try to negotiate lower fees for the consumer and, although they told consumers they could get a refund if their card rates weren't lowered, few refunds were actually paid.
The FTC asked the court in each case to issue an order temporarily halting the automated calls pending trial.
In May, the FTC filed two cases that led to court orders stopping other telemarketers from using robocalls with deceptive claims about extended auto warranties.
Since Sept. 1, virtually all robocalls have been illegal, unless the recipients have provided written authorization to receive the prerecorded calls.
The FTC's recently released "National Do Not Call Registry Data Book for Fiscal Year 2009," says more than 191 million telephone numbers have been placed on the Do Not Call registry.