Security firm nailed in federal No-Call list

Thursday, December 11, 2003

December 11, 2003

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A security installation firm here was called the state's "largest abuser" of the new federal no call laws and slapped with a $1.3 million lawsuit by the state's attorney general after numerous consumers complained about the company's telemarketing, state officials said.

Attorney General Jim Petro on Tuesday filed the case against Shelterguard Systems, accusing the security company of engaging in unlawful telemarketing practices, mainly calling consumers who had placed their name on the National Do-Not-Call Registry.

Between Oct. 17, when the registry officially took effect, and Dec. 4, 50 consumer complaints were logged against Shelterguard either through the Federal Trade Commission's tracking system or directly with the consumer protection division of Petro's office.

" In six weeks, that's a lot of violations," said Michelle Gatchell, spokesperson for Petro's office. "It seemed like they didn't even pay attention to the list."

Shelterguard President Nick Kehagis could not be reached for comment by press time, but said in published reports that Shelterguard purchased its phone lists from a company that guaranteed their lists to be free of names also on the national registry. Kehagis said his company makes about 12,000 phone calls per week and does its best to check the lists.

The security company could seek a claim against the list provider, but that lawsuit would have no affect on the state's complaint against the company, Gatchell said.

" The company is liable and doesn't matter where they get their lists from," Gatchell said.

Shelterguard is facing up to a $1,500 fine per violation as well as other civil penalties. The state's lawsuit also seeks a permanent injunction against Shelterguard from making telemarketing calls to people on the national registry, but the case has not yet been heard in court, Gatchell said.