Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced that his office filed a lawsuit against New York-based Fluent, Inc. and its affiliates alleging that the group of companies used deceptive tactics to collect consumers’ contact information and sell it to telemarketers, resulting in hundreds of thousands of unwanted robocalls to state residents.
According to the complaint, the defendants advertised promotional offerings, such as gift cards to popular retailers and payments through mobile apps, to trick consumers into providing their contact information and “consent” to the use of such information by the defendants’ “marketing partners.” The promotional offerings allegedly failed to include clear and conspicuous disclosures advising consumers that, by providing their contact information, they were ultimately consenting to receive telemarketing calls from hundreds of third-party sellers whose products and services were often wholly unrelated to the promotional offerings they sought.
The state’s investigation found that, between 2018 and 2021, more than 4.2 million Pennsylvania consumers registered their information on one of Fluent’s websites, which included URLs like www.surveysandpromotions.com, http://restaurantpromotionsusa.com and www.mymonthlysweeps.com. The information sold by the defendants to telemarketers also included the personal information of thousands of consumers on Pennsylvania’s Do Not Call List.
“If a Pennsylvania resident registers their phone number on the ‘Do-Not-Call’ List, it’s illegal for telemarketers to call them,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Every company is obligated to comply with state and federal telemarketing laws, and Fluent failed to comply. These invasive robocalls are a growing problem—Fluent’s phony actions cannot be used to obtain consumers' consent to receive unwanted calls.”
The defendants allegedly violated federal and state telemarketing laws, including the Federal Trade Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (“TSR”), as well as Pennsylvania’s Telemarketer Registration Act (“TRA”) and its Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.
The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, seeks declaratory and injunctive relief as well as civil penalties of $1,000 per violation and $3,000 per violation involving a victim 60 years or older. The action also seeks disgorgement of profits, costs of the state’s investigation and prosecution, and a permanent injunction banning the defendants from selling, sharing or transferring consumer data for purposes of telemarketing unless obtained in full compliance with the TSR and TRA.
"These invasive robocalls are a growing problem—Fluent’s phony actions cannot be used to obtain consumers' consent to receive unwanted calls" -- Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro