45M illegal robocalls lead to huge fine against N.J. firm, feds say

Posted Jul 16, 2021

The owners of a New Jersey-based company that sells septic tank cleaning products will pay more than $1.6 million to settle charges that the firm and its telemarketer made illegal robocalls to consumers across the country, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The FTC’s complaint alleged that Environmental Safety International (ESI) of Ridgefield and Fairview made more than 45 million illegal calls, including 31 million to people who had signed up for the Do Not Call Registry.

The company and its officers could not be reached for comment.

As part of the settlement, the company’s two officers, brothers Joseph Carney and Sean Carney, and another brother, Raymond Carney, initiated the calls between January 2018 and March 2019 to promote ESI’s “Activator 1000” line of septic tank cleaning products.

The complaint says telemarketers working for the firm told consumers they were calling from an unnamed “environmental company” to give consumers “free info” on a septic tank cleaning product.

Despite being told the robocall was “not a sales call or solicitation,” consumers who “pressed one” to receive free information instead received a sales pitch, the FTC said.

“The complaint also alleges that ESI sent letters to consumers who agreed to buy their products but had unpaid invoices, falsely claiming that they would be referred to a `national collection agency’ or to an attorney. However, ESI never took either of these actions,” the FTC said.

The court-approved order says the brothers and the company will pay $10.2 million in civil penalties, but that will be partially suspended after Joseph Carney and Sean Carney pay $1,646,210 and Raymond Carney pays $15,000.

Joseph and Sean Carney are also prohibited from making misrepresentations to consumers, including threats about a collection agency or attorney, and they must dissolve the company within 30 days. They must also stop any collection attempts and notify customers with unpaid balances that they do not owe the money, the FTC said.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-07-17 03:12:17 -0700