In separate actions, Iowa district judges have ordered Arizona-based telemarketers to stop targeting Iowans with solicitations, state officials said Friday.
Polk County District Judge Mary Pat Gunderson on Friday issued an order to permanently restrained Action Point, LLC, and its owner, Robert Foster, from engaging in any telemarketing or direct mail to Iowa consumers.
The consent judgment barring the Phoenix company from soliciting Iowans came after Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller brought legal action alleging the for-profit company tried to boost sales of high-priced products by falsely claiming that its telemarketers were disabled veterans. In the lawsuit, Miller alleged that Action Point telemarketers made misleading claims in calls to Iowans, including that merchandise payments would be tax deductible, and that a large share of each payment would go to providing shelter credits and other vital assistance to disadvantaged veterans in need.
The AG’s consumer protection division recorded the claims on an undercover phone line, which records solicitation calls that telemarketers are placing to elderly Iowans. The solicitor in the December 2011 recording claimed that Action Point employees were physical disabled and that “80 percent of the guys here are disabled veterans” in attempting to sell $50 containers of cookies, state officials said in a news release.
According to the AG’s lawsuit, Foster directly contradicted the recorded claims regarding disabilities and military injuries in acknowledging that no one involved in Action Point’s operations is disabled and that none of the proceeds go to help the disabled. Foster and the company did not admit liability as part of the consent judgment, Miller’s office said.
In an unrelated case, the Iowa Attorney General’s office announced that a Polk County judge has banned an separate Arizona for-profit company and its owner from calling Iowans.
America Workshops, LLC, owned and managed by George Thomas, is a telemarketing sales operation that sells light bulbs, trash bags, and other household and personal items by phone. Although the company does not explicitly claim to be a charity, Miller alleged that the Phoenix company uses a charity-themed sales pitch to sell the items at premium prices.
“Callers say they are not a charity asking for donations, but that purchases help workers by providing them jobs, so they can be ‘tax payers’ not ‘tax burdens,’” Miller said in a statement. “And we know their callers sometimes go much further by making unauthorized and dubious claims that purchases provide vital shelter credits to veterans.”
Miller’s office sought a court order to force the company to cooperate with state consumer protection investigators and, prior to a hearing, Thomas committed to stop calling Iowa customers, according to the AG’s office.
However, state Consumer Protection Division officials captured one of the company’s telemarketing calls to an undercover phone line in August, prompting Miller’s office to seek a court order prohibiting all Iowa telemarketing. Officials within the Attorney General’s office said a Polk County judge issued a ban on Oct. 26 through a consent judgment. Thomas and the company did not admit liability.