DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline) – Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced on Friday that he has reached a settlement with a Wisconsin telemarketer that allegedly violated a court order.
The Milwaukee, Wis.-based Community Support allegedly made deceptive calls to Iowa consumers, failing to provide correct information about who they were, where they were calling from and how much of any money donated would go to the charity they claimed to represent.
These actions allegedly continued despite a May 2009 consent judgment that Miller’s office had previously obtained against CSI, when undercover tapes allegedly revealed that its telephone fundraisers were misleading Iowans.
Under the agreement, CSI will halt all fundraising calls in Iowa for at least seven years, with a $40,000 penalty per violation for future violations if it ever resumes fundraising in Iowa. CSI is also required to pay $5,000 for costs associated with the litigation.
“We caught CSI’s telemarketers in the act of violating a court order by trying to mislead prospective donors,” Miller said. “We obtained eight recordings on our undercover phone line, and every single recording contained violations.”
The agreement also calls for the company to pay for its own enforcement if it ever does start up calls in Iowa again. Miller said that even after 11 years, CSI would have to pay $50,000 to resume calls to Iowans.
“Having caught them in repeated deceptions, we made them agree to cover the enforcement costs of keeping them in line,” Miller said. “Realistically, that probably means they’re out of Iowa forever. And with their track record, that’s a good thing for Iowa consumers.”
Of the money that Iowans contributed as a result of the calls, Miller believes that only 15 percent to 20 percent went to a charity.
Among those the company made calls for were the American Foundation for Disabled Children, Children’s Cancer and Leukemia Relief Fund, National Vietnam Veterans Foundation, Reserve Police Officers Association, and Woman2Woman Breast Cancer Foundation.
CIS denied any wrongdoing in agreeing to the assurance of voluntary compliance.