A Newport News, Va., firm has been ordered to pay $196,000 for violating the federal Do Not Call law. Virginia Attorney General Judith Jagdmann said it was the first time Virginia has prosecuted a company under the federal statute.
In the lawsuit, former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, who has since quit to run for governor, charged Real Time International, Inc., with breaking both state and federal telemarketing laws by calling Virginians whose numbers were on the National Do Not Call Registry. The Commonwealth obtained a judgment in federal court that enjoined future violations by the firm and awarded damages for consumers.
"This Office cracked down on a top Virginia target under the Do Not Call law,: said Attorney General Jagdmann. "We have brought its illegal activities to a halt and sent a serious message to telemarketers who flout the law."
The federal Do Not Call law, which went into effect on October 1, 2003, prohibits telemarketers from making telephone solicitation calls to residents who register their numbers on a National Do Not Call Registry maintained by the Federal Trade Commission. Residents may also register cellular phones on the list.
Until recently, Real Time marketed vacation packages to residents of central and southeastern Virginia. Between October 2003 and October 2004, sixty-six Virginians reported Do Not Call violations by the firm, including twenty-two repeat violations. Twenty-seven residents reported that Real Times callers failed to identify themselves, and sixteen reported that the callers made calls after earlier requests not to do so.
Under the lawsuit, the Court awarded injunctive relief to prevent future violations of federal and state telemarketing laws, as well as over $196,000 in monetary damages for willful violations of the law.
Virginians can register their home and cell phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry and can file Do Not Call complaints online at www.donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236) from the number they want to register. Telemarketers have thirty-one days to comply after a resident has registered.
Virginia state law prohibits telemarketers from calling Virginia residents who have registered their telephone numbers on the registry and gives Virginia residents a private right of action if they are on the list and receive such calls.