March 8, 2012
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today filed lawsuits against one California company and four Florida companies for calling Missourians on the state’s No-Call list. The Attorney General also again today called on the General Assembly to include cell phones in the state’s No-Call law.
The Attorney General filed lawsuits against TollFreeZone.com, Inc.; Innovative Wealth Builders, Inc.; BMV Debt Management Corporation; American Credit Counselors; and A+ Financial Center, LLC. TollFreeZone.com is believed to be operating from offices in San Juan Capistrano, California. Innovative Wealth Builders has offices in Clearwater, Florida, and the other three companies are in cities surrounding Palm Beach, Florida.
The cases against BMV Debt Management and American Credit Counselors allege that the companies used a spoofed telephone number to make 20,000 calls during a three-month period. The spoofed number, rather than the actual number called from, is what shows up on consumer’s caller ID system and this misrepresentation conceals from the consumer the identity and origin of the telemarketer.
"The telemarketers who flaunt Missouri’s No-Call law will be prosecuted. We have received hundreds of complaints from consumers receiving these unwanted calls," Koster said. "We will continue to enforce the No-Call laws so that consumers are not bothered at home by illegal calls."
Consumers should write down the number and the name of the company calling, if known, and then hang up. They can then make notes of any other information provided and report it to the Attorney General at 866-BuzzOff (866-289-9633) or online at ago.mo.gov.
Consumers can assist in locating and prosecuting no call violators in several ways. First, they should try to obtain the telephone number. Unless it is spoofed or blocked, the telephone number will appear on the consumer’s caller ID system. Consumers can also simply ask the telemarketer or dial *69 immediately after the call.
For those receiving a large volume of spoofed calls, consumers can arrange with their telephone company to place a “trap” that tracks information from all incoming phone calls. This technology is available to the telephone company and is not fooled by the practice of spoofing. The trap must already be on the telephone when the telemarketing calls come in. If the number is spoofed, the consumer will be unable to get the information after the calls are made. The phone company charges a fee for this service, but it can provide crucial information if the consumer is willing to make this effort.
Koster today once again urged the General Assembly to pass a law this year add to cell phones to Missouri’s No-Call law. Koster said Missouri residents have asked to register more than 2.3 million cell phones, but currently, the Missouri No-Call law does not allow the Attorney General to register anything but residential landlines.
"Missourians have told us overwhelmingly that they want their cell phones protected from unwanted calls," Koster said. "Missouri’s No-Call law has been incredibly successful, but it is time to take the next step and expand the law to cell phones."