Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane’s office has announced the filing of a civil lawsuit against a home chimney cleaning company and its owner. Evidence found by the Attorney General’s office shows that representatives of the company and its affiliates made hundreds of thousands of unsolicited phone calls to people registered on Pennsylvania’s Do Not Call list.
The lawsuit was filed by the office’s Bureau of Consumer Protection against Adam Joyce and his business, Interstate Ventilation Inc. Joyce also operated under the business names of Lysco Contracting Inc. and Lysco Chimney Inc. The businesses offer home improvement services, such as chimney inspections and cleaning, and marketed the services through telemarketing.
Joyce and his companies are accused of violating the state Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law and the Telemarketer Registration Act. The law requires telemarketers to obtain the Do Not Call list quarterly. Telemarketers then have 30 days to remove those registered on the Do Not Call list from their own call lists.
Despite these requirements, consumer complaints revealed that hundreds of calls were placed to them by Joyce and representatives of his companies, even though they were registered on the Do Not Call list from Nov. 15, 2012 through Sept. 29, 2016.
Additionally, consumer complaints showed Joyce and his representatives made at least nine calls to consumers who requested to be placed on the companies’ internal “no call” list. The attorney general’s lawsuit alleges that many other Pennsylvanians were harmed by the defendants’ calls. The office developed software that uncovered a high volume of unsolicited calls placed to consumers on the Do Not Call list.
The lawsuit also alleges that telemarketers failed to promptly identify the business from which they were calling, or the purpose of their calls — even when consumers requested this information. The telemarketers also are accused of causing confusion and misrepresentation by using “spoofing” technology, which allows callers to disguise the number that appears on the call recipient’s caller ID.
The lawsuit further alleges violations of the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act. The defendants are accused of allowing a lapse in HICPA registration, as well as misrepresentations on contracts that were used in Pennsylvania.
The lawsuit seeks to prohibit Joyce and his companies from the business of telemarketing in Pennsylvania. It also seeks a $1,000 civil penalty for every violation of HICPA or the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, as well as a $3,000 civil penalty for every violation involving a consumer 60 years old or older.
The lawsuit further seeks reimbursement of legal costs. It was filed in Commonwealth Court and will be prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Allison L. Deibert of the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The Pennsylvania Do Not Call list is a resource for citizens who do not want to receive telemarketing calls. Telemarketers are prohibited from placing sales calls to any phone numbers on the list. Under state law, the Office of Attorney General contracts with a list administrator which distributes the list to telemarketers. Telemarketers may utilize the list for the exclusive purpose of removing residential and wireless telephone subscribers from their telephone sales call lists. The Office of Attorney General investigates and pursues legal actions against alleged violators when necessary. Those interested in signing up for the Do Not Call list are encouraged to call 888-777-3406 or visit www.attorneygeneral.gov to register online.
Image: Anderson Chimney