BASKING RIDGE, NJ — Verizon Wireless said today it has stopped several companies from calling its customers to offer extended auto warranties. The settlement, reached last month, bars two companies, St. Louis-based National Auto Warranty Services and Florida-based Explicit Media, doing business as Voice Solutions, from telemarketing to Verizon Wireless customers using illegal methods.
(Image Caption: Between takes on the set of Law & Order SVU, Mariska Hargitay, actress, advocate and the president and founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation, accepted a $50,000 donation from Steve Zipperstein, vice president of legal & external affairs and Leigh Schachter, assistant general counsel at Verizon Wireless. A recent settlement with two firms that used illegal methods to telemarket extended auto warranties to Verizon Wireless customers made the donation possible.)
Verizon Wireless will donate the $50,000 it received in the settlement to the Joyful Heart Foundation, whose mission is to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse and shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues.
“This auto warranty scheme has been going on for quite a while, and we’re pleased to have identified and stopped two of the companies responsible for harassing our customers,” said Steven E. Zipperstein, vice president and general counsel of Verizon Wireless. “However, we know that unscrupulous companies and individuals continue to make these calls and offer these products, and we will continue pursuing them aggressively with litigation and referrals to law enforcement to stop them and protect our customers’ privacy.”
“I created the Joyful Heart Foundation to help survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse heal and reclaim their lives,” said Mariska Hargitay, actress, advocate and the president and founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation. “Because of the generosity and vision of individuals and companies like Verizon Wireless, we will serve over 2,000 survivors in this year alone. We are profoundly grateful for this gift, and inspired by Verizon’s efforts to bring hope and healing to lives of so many.”
The lawsuit, originally filed in March 2008 and amended in July of that year, alleged the telemarketers illegally used an autodialer to reach Verizon Wireless customers and used “spoofing” techniques to mask the origin of the calls. Verizon Wireless said that beginning in January 2008, more than 2 million of its customers and employees received calls on their wireless telephones with a pre-recorded voice message indicating that the recipient’s car warranty was about to expire, and encouraging them to press “1” for more information. When a recipient presses “1,” he or she is connected to a person who asks for the make and model of the car. However, if the recipient asks for information about the company offering the policy, the representative simply hangs up and ends the call. Calls like these continue to this day.
This lawsuit, and others filed by the company against telemarketers and wireless spammers, alleged violations of the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which makes it illegal to use an auto-dialer to make calls to wireless phones, as well as state fraud and privacy laws.
Verizon Wireless’ record of protecting customer privacy puts the company at the forefront of the U.S. wireless industry. Over the past several years, Verizon Wireless has won permanent injunctions against individuals and companies that have engaged in illegal telemarketing and text message spamming to Verizon Wireless customers, and against those who have attempted to obtain information about Verizon Wireless customers to sell to third parties. On behalf of its customers, Verizon Wireless has donated tens of thousands of dollars to many domestic violence prevention, law enforcement and other non-profit organizations as a result of these settlements.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s most reliable and largest wireless voice and data network, serving more than 86.6 million customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with more than 86,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). For more information, visit www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.