AT&T Corp will pay fines and investigation costs to resolve complaints from dozens of consumers who claimed that the telecommunications company violated Pennsylvania's "Do Not Call" law by illegally calling their homes to sell its long distance telephone services.
Attorney General Tom Corbett said under the legal agreement , the company will pay nearly $35,000 in fines and investigation costs and comply with Pennsylvania law prior to conducting any future telemarketing activities within the Commonwealth.
The agreement ends an investigation into claims that AT&T Corp. violated Pennsylvania's Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law and the Telemarketer Registration Act during its telemarketing campaign.
According to Bureau of Consumer Protection agents, between November 2002 and June 2004 Pennsylvania consumers across 24 different counties claimed that AT&T representatives contacted them at home to sell long distance telephone service plans even though the consumers' names, addresses and telephone numbers were properly registered on the state's "no call" list.
Under the Telemarketer Registration Act, businesses and telemarketers as of November 1, 2002 are required to purchase the "no call" list and properly process the names and telephone numbers to ensure that those on the registry are not contacted.
In addition, businesses conducting telemarketing sales campaigns are prohibited from contacting consumers until the list is obtained and properly adapted to their internal calling systems.
Dozens of consumers officially registered on Pennsylvania's "no call" list filed complaints claiming that they received multiple calls from AT&T offering them discount long distance service plans.
According to the complaints, consumers reminded AT&T telemarketers that they were on the state's "no call" list and should not be contacted. They also requested that their telephone numbers be placed on AT&T's internal "no call" list.
The company is accused of falsely telling consumers that they were allowed to contact residents because:
• Pennsylvania's "no call" list did not exist.
• The consumer's name was not on the list.
• They were trying to save the consumer money.
• Pennsylvania's "no call" list did not apply to telephone companies.
• The telemarketing calls were generated outside of Pennsylvania.
• It takes 30 days for the state's list to be active and 90 days to update the company's internal list.
• The consumer was not on AT&T's • no call• list.
Several consumers also claimed that the company blocked its telephone number disabling their caller ID systems in violation of state law.
A total of 250 consumers filed complaints claiming that they received calls from AT&T but were unsure if the telemarketers were calling on behalf of AT&T Corp, AT&T Wireless, AT&T Broadband or Universal Card Services. Approximately 60 calls were traced to telemarketers with AT&T Corp.
"A business that makes two or two million calls to sell its goods or services to Pennsylvanians is required to comply with the 'no call' law," Corbett said. "Our residents were given the legal right to take steps to stop telemarketers from contacting them at home and it's my job to enforce that right."
AT&T Corp. claimed that one of its telemarketers experienced computer problems that resulted in numerous calls being placed to consumers whose names were legitimately registered.