More states taking shots at text-message 'spammers'

Legal News Line Jan. 23, 2007, 10:21am

Lisa Madigan

SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is the latest to jump into the growing pool of lawsuits over so-called "text-message spamming." Madigan yesterday filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in Springfield against Florida-based C & C Global Enterprises and two individuals alleging they sent thousands of unwanted text messages in Illinois. The messages directed Cingular Wireless customers to two websites for buying and selling time-share properties. Madigan claims the messages violate the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the state Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. Last November, Atlanta-based Cingular Wireless and later the Georgia attorney general sued the same entities for committing the same violations in Georgia over the company's network there. Cingular also sued two other Florida-based entities for similar alleged infractions. Recently a company called Blinko - the American subsidiary of Italy's Buongiorno entertainment giant - also landed in hot water over its method of signing up customers by sending "unsolicited" text messages. Complaints about the messages to Blinko's carrier, Verizon, led to Blinko's suspension from signing up more customers. Blinko also is facing a class action lawsuit in Michigan over sending Verizon customers in that state "unwanted text messages and monthly charges." Customers who wanted to cancel the service were told to "cancel with Blinko directly" on the company's website but many claimed the directions were misleading. The Florida attorney general is investigating similar claims in that state. Madigan calls such conduct "particularly egregious because consumers have no way to avoid these costs that they never agreed to incur." She added, "Many of the consumers who complained to my office said they do not even own a time share to sell."

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