LITTLE ROCK — Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said Thursday his office has filed federal lawsuits against five Florida-based companies alleging that they engaged in telemarketing tactics that violated multiple federal and state laws.
The suits allege the companies made illegal a automated, or prerecorded, calls known as "robocalls" to customers in Arkansas offering to reduce interest rates on credit cards.
The companies never intended to provided permanent interest-rate reductions, nor did they have any more means to do so than the customers they were calling, the suits claim.
McDaniel said in a release that his office has received "hundreds of complaints about these types of companies and their aggressive, illegal telephone marketing."
The lawsuits were filed against Associated Accounting Specialist Inc. of Port St. Lucie and its owner, William Page; Business First Solutions Inc. of Orlando and its owners, Jonathon Warren and Edward Warren; Financial Ladder Inc. of Saint Cloud and its owners, Brenda Helfenstine and Antonia Helfenstine; Financial Management Partners Inc. of Maitland and its owners, Betsy Valorose and Eric Pugh; and Kenneth Sallies of Winter Springs, former owner of the now-defunct Customer Global Services LLC.
The lawsuits allege that each of the five companies violated the federal Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, the FTC Telemarketing Sales Rule, the Arkansas Consumer Telephone Privacy Act and the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Four of companies are also accused of violations of the Arkansas Advance Fee Loan Brokerage Act.
Two of the companies – Associated Accounting Specialists and Financial Ladder – allegedly assessed fees to consumers who accepted their offers, yet never provided the promised aid.
Business First Solutions and Financial Management Partners allegedly transferred existing consumer credit-card debt on to new credit cards that consumers had never requested.
The new cards, according to the lawsuits, only temporarily had lower interest rates before the rate was increased to the same level or even higher than the old card.
All five companies, according to the lawsuits, repeatedly violated state and federal law by calling numbers listed on the "Do Not Call" registry.
The lawsuit asked the order the defendants to cease their illegal telemarketing activities and provide restitution to affected consumers. The lawsuit suit also asked for civil penalties and costs.