HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — On Thursday, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced in a press release that his office filed a lawsuit against a New York-based company that allegedly caused hundreds of thousands of unwanted robocalls to Pennsylvania consumers.
Fluent, Inc., a New York-based company, connects advertisers to potential new customers using the customers’ personal data. The company allegedly has caused hundreds of thousands of unwanted robocalls to be placed to Pennsylvania consumers.
Fluent and its subsidiaries Fluent LLC, CAC, American Prize Center, LLC, Deliver Technology, LLC, Rewardzone USA, LLC, and Samples & Savings USA, LLC, allegedly collected personal information from customers, according to the release.
The personal information allegedly gathered included telephone numbers that were sold to telemarketing companies, the release said. Consumers who were on Pennsylvania’s Do Not Call List allegedly had their personal information sold, as well, according to the attorney general’s office.
“If a Pennsylvania resident registers their phone number on the ‘Do-Not-Call’ List, it’s illegal for telemarketers to call them,” Shapiro said in the release. “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 consumer’s consent to receive unwanted calls.”
Fluent obtained consumers’ information through the consumers’ efforts to register to receive promotional offerings, including gift cards to popular retailers like Amazon and Walmart, according to the release. These promotional offerings didn’t include any clear or obvious disclosures to warn the consumers that they were consenting to receive telemarketing calls if they provided their contact information, the attorney general’s office noted. The release said that the sellers’ products and services weren’t related to the promotional offerings in many cases.
From 2018 to 2021, more than 4.2 million Pennsylvania consumers registered their information on one of Fluent’s websites, according to the release. The lawsuit alleges that Fluent and its subsidiaries assisted and facilitated millions of violations of federal and state telemarketing laws by:
- Trafficking telemarketing calls to consumers who are on the Federal Do Not Call Registry
- Delivering telemarketing calls to consumers on the Federal Do Not Call Registry, where the consumers did not give their valid consent to be contacted
- Delivering telemarketing calls to consumers with prerecorded messages, known as robocalls, without proper consumer consent
- Engaging in deceptive and misleading business practices, in connection with their lead-generating practices
If you are on the Pennsylvania “Do-Not-Call” List and receive unwanted and unsolicited calls from telemarketers, you are advised to file a complaint online.
Fluent has caught the attention of the government before. In May of 2021, it entered into a settlement with the New York Attorney General’s Office, in which it faced allegations that it supplied millions of fake public comments in opposition to net neutrality rules. Fluent was retained by the broadband industry to generate leads to create a false appearance of widespread grassroots opposition to net neutrality rules, according to the release. Fluent, Inc. paid a civil penalty totaling $3.7 million and agreed to comprehensive reforms for its political advocacy work, the release noted.
The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania by Senior Deputy Attorney General Amy L. Schulman of the Pittsburgh Regional Office.