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November 23, 2005

Verizon takes on the spammers

Verizon Wireless has hit back at spammers by filing a lawsuit in New Jersey, seeking an injunction against Passport Holidays for violating federal and state laws by sending tens of thousands of unsolicited text messages to Verizon customers.

By CBR Staff Writer

Verizon Wireless filed the suit in federal court in Trenton after more than 98,000 unsolicited short text messages were sent last month to Verizon Wireless customers on behalf of Passport Holidays, informing customers they supposedly had won a cruise to the Bahamas and asking them to call to claim their prize. Passport Holidays and other currently unknown individuals who are alleged to have assisted in sending out the spam are named as defendants in the suit.

The lawsuit alleges that Passport Holidays and others violated the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act by using auto-dialing equipment to send large bursts of text messages to sequential phone numbers within very short periods of time.

US Federal Communications Commission regulations prohibit the use of automated dialers to call, or to send unsolicited text messages to, cell phone numbers. Automated dialers are standard in the telemarketing industry; so most telemarketers are barred from calling consumers on their cell phones without their consent.

Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that the defendants used deceptive means to hide the identity of the party sending the spam messages and to avoid filters that Verizon Wireless employs to prevent spam from reaching its customers.

Verizon Wireless said its lawsuit also claims the defendants too measures to hide the identity of the sender and to avoid the operator’s spam filters. The operator recently filed two law suits against private investigation firms alleging they use fraudulent means to acquire customer information from Verizon Wireless

The court filing is the latest in a series of consumer protection lawsuits filed by Verizon Wireless. Last year, Verizon Wireless obtained an injunction against a Rhode Island spammer who had been sending numerous text message solicitations to Verizon Wireless customers. Earlier this year it sued telemarketing firms based in Florida and California, forcing them to stop making illegal sales calls to wireless customers.

The company also secured a court order halting a Tennessee-based company’s illegal practice of using fraudulent means to obtain and sell confidential customer telephone records. Most recently, Verizon Wireless obtained an injunction and a seizure order against another Florida-based outfit that had been attempting to obtain private customer information through illegal and fraudulent practices.

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