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FTC sues Dish Network over do not call complaints

WASHINGTON – Satellite TV provider Dish Network is being sued by the federal government for alleged violations to the national Do Not Call Registry.

The Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday that the company, formerly known as EchoStar, has made thousands of phone calls to people on the Do Not Call list. Dish Network is the biggest violator to date, the FTC said, based on the number of complaints to the agency.

According to the FTC, Dish refused to settle the case, so the government filed suit. It’s the first time the agency hasn’t been able to get an accused company to settle Do Not Call allegations.

The complaint against Dish says it made calls, and helped authorized dealers to make “robocalls” that delivered pre-recorded messages when consumers answered their phones.

“If you call consumers whose numbers are on the Do Not Call Registry, you’re breaking the law,” said Eileen Harrington, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “If your authorized dealers call consumers whose numbers are on the registry, you’re breaking the law. Either way, we will protect the privacy of American consumers and we will hold you accountable.”

Since the registry began in 2003, the FTC has brought more than 40 cases against companies for Do Not Call violations. The biggest case to date involved satellite television provider DirecTV Inc., which paid a $5.3 million settlement.

More than 167 million phone numbers have been placed on the Do Not Call registry, which prohibits telemarketers from calling phone numbers on the list. Companies face fines of up to $16,000 for each violation.

Organizations engaged in charitable, political or survey work are exempt. Companies that have an established business relationship with a customer also may call for up to 18 months after the last purchase, payment or delivery.

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