Attorney General Henry announced a settlement with New York-based Fluent, LLC and its subsidiaries, for their role in allegedly causing millions of unwanted telemarketing calls to be placed to Pennsylvania residents.
Through promotional offers in which gift cards to popular retailers such as Amazon or Walmart were offered as incentives, Fluent and its subsidiaries collected personal information, including telephone numbers, which were then sold as “leads” to telemarketing companies. This included the personal information of thousands of people on the Pennsylvania and Federal “Do Not Call” lists.
According to the lawsuit, Fluent’s promotional offers consistently failed to include clear and obvious disclosures that by providing personal information, registrants consented to receive telemarketing calls from hundreds of potential sellers. These sellers’ products and services were often not related to the original promotional offerings and had nothing to do with Fluent’s conduct. According to the lawsuit, more than 4.2 million Pennsylvania consumers registered their information on one of Fluent’s websites.
The underlying lawsuit alleged that Fluent and its subsidiaries assisted and facilitated millions of violations of federal and state telemarketing laws by:
- Distributing telemarketing calls to consumers who are on the Federal “Do Not Call” Registry;
- Delivering telemarketing calls to consumers on the Federal “Do Not Call” Registry where the consumers did not give their valid consent to be contacted;
- Delivering telemarketing calls to consumers with pre-recorded messages– also known as robocalls– without proper consumer consent; and
- Engaging in deceptive and misleading business practices in connection with their lead-generating practices.
“ ‘Do Not Call’ means just that, and my office will continue to do all we can to aggressively target those who illegally cross those boundaries,” Attorney General Henry said. “Millions of people registering for gift cards or other prizes with familiar retailers had no idea they were also signing up for invasive telemarketing calls.”
This settlement prevents Fluent and its subsidiaries from contacting Pennsylvanians who are registered on the national registry or the Pennsylvania “Do Not Call” list without first receiving the consumer’s express agreement in writing. Furthermore, it requires that Fluent and its subsidiaries clearly disclose to consumers the specific party or parties for whom consent is requested without using a hyperlink or separate pop-up screen. Finally, the settlement prevents Fluent and its subsidiaries from selling, transferring, or sharing any data that would result in the consumer receiving a prerecorded message.
The settlement also requires Fluent to pay $250,000 to the Office of Attorney General to be used for public protection and educational purposes.