Florida travel company subject to $3 million fine for junk phone calls

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed forfeiture penalties in the amount of $2,960,000 against a Florida travel company for delivering unsolicited, pre-recorded phone messages.

Issued in October 2011, the Notice of Apparent Liability cites Tampa-based Travel Club Marketing, Inc. for delivering 185 unsolicited phone messages to 142 separate telephone numbers. In at least one instance, the company also reportedly failed to transmit caller identification information required of telemarketers.

The Commission’s Notice follows the issuance of two separate Citations against the company in July and September 2010. In response to the first Citation, the company informed the Commission that Travel Club Marketing was “deceased” and “no longer functioning” (the company did not respond to the second Citation). However, despite the company’s reported demise, the Commission received an additional 142 complaints from consumers from November 2010 through October 2011.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 makes it “unlawful for any person within the United States…to initiated calls using an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice to…any cellular telephone number” without the prior consent of the called party, except for emergency purposes. In addition, FCC rules require telemarketers to transmit “caller ID information that permits consumers to make a do-not-call request.”

In this case, the Commission cited Travel Club Marketing for willful and repeated violations of its regulations, levying $16,000 in fines for each of the 185 apparent violations, for a total of $2,960,000. The Commission noted that the proposed penalty was based on the number of apparent, willful, repeat violations involved, as well as the company’s “apparent deceptive and evasive conduct.”

Read the complete text of the Commission’s Forfeiture Order against Travel Club for delivering unsolicited, pre-recorded phone messages.