Attorney General cracks down on auto warranty calls

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By James Roberts

If my home phone rings, 99 percent of the time it's a telemarketer. This has been going on for years. I'll tell ya, pay off a couple of credit cards and the wolves start pounding at your door.

It's gotten so bad, I won't even answer the phone anymore. For a while, I was getting calls every day.

Imagine my surprise when I started getting telemarketing calls via my cell phone.

All of the calls - I've received seven of them this month - are a pre-recorded message warning me that my auto warranty is about to expire.

I knew this didn't apply to me, so after the first call, I simply forgot about it. Six calls later - from two different phone numbers - it was hard to ignore.

As someone who feels under attack from telemarketers already, it's safe to assume that I'm on the Do Not Call list - home number and cell number. These auto warranty guys are in violation of that list.

So, I was fully prepared to pay attention the next time they called. I was going to take down the information and report the scoundrels.

To my surprise, the next call never came. And then, on Thursday, Kentucky's own non-caped crusader Attorney General Jack Conway announced that he filed a consumer protection lawsuit in Fayette Circuit Court regarding the auto warranty calls.

According to the complaint, telemarketers from SVM Inc. in Nevada and from other associated companies have repeatedly called Kentucky consumers and stated that the manufacturer's warranty on their vehicle was about to expire. The telemarketers said that they could extend the factory warranty and solicited financial information from consumers. According to the Attorney General's complaint, defendant Mike Bruce Moneymaker of California owns the telemarketing centers.

The complaint also alleges that SVM has failed to properly register with the Consumer Protection Division or to obtain a bond as required by Kentucky law.

Conway is seeking a temporary injunction to stop the company from making calls to Kentucky residents with numbers on the national Do Not Call registry.

"Consumers from across Kentucky have reported these annoying warranty calls to both our Web site and our Consumer Protection Hotline," Conway stated in a press release. "When you register your phone number on the Do Not Call Registry, you expect to be protected from harassing telemarketing calls. When companies violate Kentucky's 'No Call' law, my office will take action."

Several other states have also reported these calls and Kentucky is now participating in a multi-state investigation. Indiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Arkansas have also filed their own lawsuits.

It's comforting to know that someone's looking out for us. It's also nice to know that I can start answering my cell phone again.

For those who are interested, you may add your home and cell phone numbers to the Do Not Call list by calling (888) 382-1222 or visiting www.nocall.ky.gov.