Verizon sues telemarketers for making illegal calls for movies

MUMBAI: Verizon Wireless has filed a lawsuit to stop a Utah-based telemarketing company from calling its customers and employees to advertise the upcoming movie, The Velveteen Rabbit. The lawsuit, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Trenton, alleges Feature Films for Families, Inc. illegally used an auto dialer to call Verizon Wireless customers on behalf of a company called Family 1 Films, based in Los Angeles.

The lawsuit states that over 10 days in early February, nearly 500,000 calls were made to Verizon Wireless customers and employees from the telephone number 917-210-4609. When customers answered these calls to their wireless phones they heard either a prerecorded voice message or an individual reading a script promoting the anticipated release of the film.

"Telemarketers continue to harass our customers and impinge on their privacy, often using illegal methods including auto dialers," said Verizon Wireless vice president and general counsel Steven E. Zipperstein . "Whatever their methods and whatever their product, these unlawful telemarketing calls are an annoyance to our customers and invade their privacy."

Many of these calls came in rapid succession, indicating the use of an autodialer to place the calls. For example, between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on 13 February, nearly 11,000 calls with the same caller ID were made, an average of one call every 0.32 seconds, and nearly 10,000 calls were made from a number with the same caller ID between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. on 6 February, an average of one call every 0.36 seconds.

The lawsuit alleges violations of the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which makes it illegal to use an autodialer to make calls to wireless phones, as well as state fraud and privacy laws. Verizon Wireless has also filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the defendants from making these calls.

Verizon Wireless’ record of protecting customer privacy puts the company at the forefront of the U.S. wireless industry. Over the past several years, Verizon Wireless has won permanent injunctions against individuals and companies that have engaged in illegal telemarketing and text message spamming to Verizon Wireless customers, and against those who have attempted to obtain information about Verizon Wireless customers to sell to third parties.

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