WASHINGTON (AP) – The nation's second-largest satellite TV provider – Dish Network – is being sued by the federal government for alleged violations of the national Do Not Call Registry.
The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday accused Dish Network of making thousands of phone calls to people on the Do Not Call list. The FTC said Dish is the biggest violator to date, based on the number of complaints to the agency.
The company, in Englewood, Colo., issued a statement denying the allegations. "An independent audit demonstrates that Dish Network is in compliance with 'do-not-call' laws, has proper controls in place and is well within the safe-harbor provisions of the law," the statement said. A spokeswoman would not comment further.
According to the FTC, Dish refused to settle the case, so the government filed suit. It's the first time the agency has not been able to get an accused company to settle Do Not Call allegations.
The complaint against Dish says it made phone calls to people on the registry and helped authorized dealers make "robocalls" that delivered prerecorded messages when consumers answered their phones.
"If you call consumers whose numbers are on the Do Not Call Registry, you're breaking the law," said Eileen Harrington, acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "If your authorized dealers call consumers whose numbers are on the registry, you're breaking the law. Either way, we will protect the privacy of American consumers and we will hold you accountable."
Four state attorneys general – in California, Illinois, Ohio and North Carolina – joined the suit.
Since the registry began in 2003, the FTC has brought more than 40 cases against companies for Do Not Call violations. The biggest settlement to date involved satellite television provider DirecTV Inc., which paid a $5.3 million settlement.
More than 167 million phone numbers have been placed on the Do Not Call Registry, which prohibits telemarketers from calling phone numbers on the list. Companies face fines of up to $16,000 for each violation.
Organizations engaged in charitable, political or survey work are exempt. Companies that have an established business relationship with a customer also may call for up to 18 months after the last purchase, payment or delivery.