The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), together with the Florida Attorney General’s Office, have jointly filed a complaint against the New York-based company Lifewatch for allegedly making millions of unsolicited robocalls as part of a deceptive telemarketing scam. According to the FTC’s press announcement, Lifewatch has been deliberately targeting seniors throughout the U.S. and Canada with these calls since 2012, and tricking consumers into registering for free medical alert systems that actually have monthly monitoring charges and cancellation fees.
In addition, the complaint alleges that Lifewatch’s robocalling activities are really a continuation of illegal telemarketing practices that were originally shut down in a case brought by the FTC and the State of Florida in 2014. Instead of using Worldwide Info Services for its telemarketing services, the complaint contends Lifewatch has employed a variety of other telemarketing companies to carry out the same deceptive telemarketing campaign.
Miami class action attorney Tod Aronovitz says that some telemarketers essentially disregard the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)—enacted in 1991 to control the spate of telephone marketing calls and certain telemarketing practices believed to impinge on consumer privacy and risk public safety. “This statute restricts the use of automatic telephone dialing systems, artificial and pre-recorded messages, and fax machines to send unsolicited advertisements,” Mr. Aronovitz said. The consumer class action lawyer believes this issue is again at the forefront as more consumers use mobile phones as their primary phone and are receiving unsolicited calls to these numbers as well.
Lifewatch’s telemarketing campaign allegedly involved several illegal practices including calls to numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry and using fake or ‘spoofed’ caller ID information. Upon answering, a pre-recorded message from the Emergency Medical Alert shipping department would inform consumers that a medical alert system had been purchased for them and they could receive it at no charge.
Consumers who followed up with a live operator were told the system normally costs $400 and the free offer was valid for only one day. When information about the monthly monitoring fee was provided, the operator would request credit card or bank information, and consumers would be charged almost immediately. Those who wanted to cancel the system, which cost $29.95 to $39.95 each month, had a hard time doing so and were told they had to pay a $400 penalty.
“Some scammers won’t take a hint,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “When we sued Lifewatch’s telemarketers for making deceptive robocalls, they just continued the same illegal practices with new telemarketers. The FTC and the Florida Attorney General won’t be deterred, and will continue to work together to stop illegal robocalls.”
“This company violated the Do Not Call Registry to deceive seniors, not only in Florida but across the country, and we will continue to work with the FTC to do everything in our power to make sure the individuals responsible for this scheme pay,” said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
The joint complaint charges that Lifewatch and other defendants, including the manager of Lifewatch, violated the FTC Act, the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, and Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The FTC and Pam Bondi are seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the illegal robocalls and deceptive telemarketing claims, as well as funds for eventual restitution to victims. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.
If you or someone you know has been affected by unlawful telemarketing practices either to a landline or mobile phone, you may be able to seek compensation for damages related to TCPA violations. Contact ARONOVITZ LAW today for a free consultation and more information about filing a complaint.
ARONOVITZ LAW: Miami Class Action Lawyers
The Miami class action law firm of ARONOVITZ LAW pursues justice for citizens across Florida who have been injured by the wrongful actions or omissions of another individual, government agency, or corporation. In addition to Florida consumer class action litigation, we can assist you with civil litigation including whistleblower cases, medical malpractice, product liability, and wrongful death cases.
Contact Miami consumer class action attorney Tod Aronovitz at 305-372-2772 for a confidential discussion of your case.