LAWFUEL – US Legal Newswire ~ Company sent out checks for nominal amounts which when cashed, enrolled unknowing consumers in a directory listing service with monthly charge ~
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced that his office has sued a Palm Beach County company alleging the company engaged in deceptive business practices. Boca Raton-based Directory Billing, LLC sent solicitations consisting of flyers and accompanying checks for $3.25 to businesses and to other consumers, advertising more prominent placement on an internet-based telephone directory. The Attorney General’s lawsuit alleges that the checks did not sufficiently disclose that cashing them would cause consumers to be billed a monthly charge directly to their telephone bill or bank account.
“Businesses should never attempt to prey on consumers through misleading or unclear advertising,” said Attorney General Bill McCollum.
“The Attorney General’s Office will continue to enforce the laws that prohibit deceptive business practices and protect our citizens from being victimized.”
Although the company has ceased sending the problematic solicitations, the lawsuit claims Directory Billing continues to collect the monthly charges. Nationwide, more than $10 million has been collected from the monthly charges of $29.95 or $34.95. Investigators with the Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Division received complaints from business consumers and at least one nonprofit company who had been unaware of the charges and authorities believe many more consumers are unaware that they are being billed on a monthly basis for an internet directory listing which is not affiliated with their phone company.
The complaint questions how consumers could knowingly pay hundreds of dollars to be listed on an internet-based phone directory when that directory cannot be readily found without first knowing the specific website address. The Attorney General’s Office is also concerned that a monthly charge in the name of “Directory Billing,” when appearing on a business telephone bill could easily go unnoticed because it would sound like a charge from the consumer’s telephone company. Business and nonprofit corporations are strongly urged to check their phone bills and bank account statements from January, 2004 through the present, and to report any unauthorized or unrecognized charges to the Office of the Attorney General.
The lawsuit was filed under Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which prohibits deceptive or misleading business practices.
Penalties for violating the act include fines of $10,000 per violation or $15,000 if the victim is a senior citizen or disabled individual. The Attorney General’s Office may also request that the Court issue an injunction against the company requiring them to provide better notice to affected consumers.
A copy of the lawsuit filed against Directory Billing is available online at: