TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Verizon Wireless Files First Lawsuit Against Telemarketers

Verizon Wireless Files First Lawsuit Against Telemarketers

Linda A. Johnson (
Sun, 4 Sep 2005 18:03:44 -0500

By Linda A. Johnson, The Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. -- Verizon Wireless has sued a pair of telemarketing
companies, accusing them of illegally soliciting the company's cell
phone users and making more than 1.2 million calls to its customers
this summer.

Verizon Wireless said it believes its two lawsuits -- filed against
Intelligent Alternatives of San Diego and Resort Marketing Trends of
Coral Springs, Fla. -- are the first ever filed by a U.S. wireless
company against telemarketers.

"We just consider it to be a tremendous invasion of privacy," Verizon
Wireless spokeswoman Robin Nicol said Friday. "Customers look at their
wireless phones as one of the last bastions of privacy that they

Verizon, one of the country's biggest cellular phone companies with
47.4 million customers, is seeking injunctions against further
telemarketing to its customers, as well as monetary damages. The
Bedminster, N.J.-based company said the telemarketers violated both
the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act and state laws.

The calls used prerecorded messages offering a prize or reward to
those who called a toll-free number, and callers then received pitches
to buy vacation time-shares, according to Nicol.

Nicol said that in July and August, Intelligent Alternatives made more
than 1 million calls to Verizon Wireless customers, including 65,000
on July 20 alone, and Resort Marketing Trends made more than 200,000
calls over the two months, including 17,253 in one hour on Aug. 2.

Verizon Wireless attorneys believe the calls were made using automatic
dialing devices, Nicol said.

The lawsuits were filed Wednesday. The suit against Intelligent
Alternatives was filed in state Superior Court in Sacramento, Calif.,
while the one against Resort Marketing Trends was filed in state
Superior Court in Somerville, N.J., because Verizon Wireless customers
in New Jersey and California received the largest number of calls from
the telemarkers.

"There were people throughout the country who received these calls,"
Nicol said, and Verizon is continuing to collect data on such calls.

At Intelligent Alternatives, spokesman C. Earl Rogers said the company
"has not willfully or knowingly called a cell phone number." He said
the lawsuit has been referred to his company's legal counsel and
declined further comment.

Officials at Resort Marketing Trends could not be reached Friday
because the telemarketing company does not have a listed telephone

According to Nicol, Verizon Wireless previously has sued spammers for
contacting its customers, but has never before sued telemarketers and
believes these are the first such lawsuits in the country.

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