Metro Wire Staff
The Wisconsin Department of Justice this week announced it had entered into a settlement with N.C.W. C., Inc., resolving the State’s claims against the company for violations of Wisconsin telemarketing laws in marketing extended vehicle service plans to automobile owners in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin DOJ sued N.C.W.C. in April 2022 upon referral from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP).
“With this resolution, the unwanted, prohibited vehicle warranty telemarketing calls from N.C.W.C. and its third-party agents should stop,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul. “Wisconsin DOJ, along with our partners at DATCP, will continue working to ensure that telemarketing companies are held accountable when they fail to follow Wisconsin law.”
DATCP Secretary Randy Romanski said that Wisconsin consumers should not be subjected to illegal solicitations by telemarketers that do not comply with the state’s consumer protection laws.
As alleged in the complaint, N.C.W.C. markets extended vehicle service plans to automobile owners throughout the country. In 2017-18, N.C.W.C. made thousands of telemarketing calls to Wisconsin numbers without being registered as a telephone solicitor as required by state law.
In addition, several thousand of the calls N.C.W.C. made to Wisconsin consumers were to numbers listed on the Do-Not-Call registry, which also violated Wisconsin law.
N.C.W.C. broadened its reach into the market for extended vehicle service plans by entering into sales representation agreements with as many as 42 other companies under which those companies sold service plans to consumers on behalf of N.C.W.C. The companies have made large numbers of telemarketing calls to Wisconsin numbers without being registered as telephone solicitors.
Two of those companies alone are known to have made several hundred thousand telemarketing calls to Wisconsin numbers listed on the Do-Not-Call registry, according to a news release from Kaul’s office.
The settlement takes the form of a consent judgment including a permanent injunction, civil forfeitures, and reimbursement of the state’s costs of investigation and prosecution. The permanent injunction requires N.C.W.C. to immediately cease all unregistered telemarketing activities in Wisconsin and requires the company to take immediate steps to stop its third-party agents from conducting unregistered telemarketing activities in Wisconsin, as well.
The injunction includes a three-year monitoring period during which time N.C.W.C. will be required to make annual reports to the state.
The consent judgment also includes a judgment for civil forfeiture and assessments of $350,000. N.C.W.C. must pay $200,000 of that amount over five months following entry of the consent judgment. The remaining $150,000 will be stayed during the three-year monitoring period. If N.C.W.C. is shown to have violated any provision of the injunction during the three-year period, then the judgment provides that the additional $150,000 becomes immediately due.
N.C.W.C. will separately pay $11,225.05 to reimburse Wisconsin DOJ and DATCP’s costs and attorney’s fees.