FTC stops consumer information scam

July 1, 2004

Victims tricked into buying credit screening device


Inman News

A stipulated final court order by the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday effectively shut down a scheme in which an Arizona-based company defrauded consumers nationwide by offering a $399 "service" to safeguard their personal financial information from unscrupulous telemarketers.

The Commission action settles all charges against defendants Vector Direct Marketing LLC and its principals, Mike Stafford and Lisa Miller. The company also did business under the names National Solicitation Guard and Anti-Solicitation Guard.

The defendants allegedly told consumers that their information – including their social security and bank account numbers – was for sale on a large number of telemarketing lists. The defendants allegedly told consumers that a $399 call screening device could help them avoid becoming victims of identity theft.

Most consumers received little more than a $34.95 call-screening device that they could have bought themselves at many retail locations.

The stipulated court order prohibits the defendants from making similar false representations to consumers about their financial information, and from billing them or debiting their accounts without their prior authorization. Finally, the order bars the defendants from violating the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule, based on their past abusive phone-collection practices, and subjects them to a monetary judgment of nearly $811,000, which has been suspended due to their inability to pay.

Copyright: Inman News Features