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Dish Network takes heat for brushing off Do-Not-Call list

Listen up, Dish Network: people who tell you stop calling them just aren’t that into you. The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday announced that it has filed a suit against Dish for allegedly calling consumers even after consumers had told the company to stop. FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz said he found it “particularly disappointing when a well-established, nationally known company — which ought to know better — appears to have flagrantly and illegally made millions of invasive calls to Americans who specifically told Dish Network to leave them alone.” The FTC’s full press release follows below.

Consumers Asked DISH Network to Leave Them Alone, But FTC Says Calls Kept Coming

Agency Sues Satellite TV Provider, Alleging it Called Millions of Consumers Who Had Asked Not to be Called Again

DISH Network, one of the nation’s largest providers of satellite television service, faces a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit alleging that it illegally called millions of consumers who had previously asked telemarketers from the company or its affiliates not to call them again.

The calls allegedly violated provisions of the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule that state that even if a consumer is not on the National Do Not Call Registry, a telemarketer may not call him or her again if the consumer specifically asks to be placed on the company’s own entity-specific do-not-call list.

“We have vigorously enforced the Do Not Call rules and will continue to do so to protect consumers’ right to be left alone in the privacy of their own homes,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “It is particularly disappointing when a well-established, nationally known company – which ought to know better – appears to have flagrantly and illegally made millions of invasive calls to Americans who specifically told DISH Network to leave them alone.”

According to the FTC’s complaint, DISH Network violated the agency’s Telemarketing Sales Rulewhile calling consumers nationwide in an attempt to sell its satellite television programming. DISH Network makes these telemarketing calls both directly to consumers and via a network of authorized dealers who make calls on its behalf. Specifically, the FTC alleges that DISH has made millions of outbound telephone calls since about September 1, 2007 to consumers who had already told them that they did not want to receive any more telemarketing calls from the company.

The Department of Justice, working on behalf of the FTC, is currently litigating another case against DISH Network for allegedly calling consumers on the National Do Not Call Registry, or causing its dealers to make such calls, in violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule. Information developed as part of that case was used to bring the new case against Dish Network announced today. In filing the complaint, the FTC aims to stop the illegal calls and is seeking civil penalties for DISH Networks’ numerous alleged telemarketing violations.

Information for Consumers

For more information the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry and telemarketing in general, including entity-specific do-not-call requirements, see the following consumer education publications: Q&A: The National Do Not Call Registry and Straight Talk About Telemarketing. The FTC also reminds consumers that if your number has been on the National Do Not Call Registry for at least 31 days and you receive a call from a telemarketer that you believe is covered by the National Do Not Call Registry, you can file a complaint online or by calling the registry’s toll-free number at 1-888-382-1222 (for TTY, call 1-866-290-4236). To file a complaint, you must know either the name or telephone number of the company that called you, and the date the company called you.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 3-0-2, with Commissioners Julie Brill and Maureen Ohlhausen recused. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Central District of Illinois, Springfield Division, on August 22, 2012.

NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.