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MCDANIEL SUES FIVE TELEMARKETING COMPANIES

LITTLE ROCK - Attorney General Dustin McDaniel today filed lawsuits against five Florida-based companies accused of engaging in telemarketing tactics that violated multiple federal and state laws.

The five lawsuits, filed in U.S. District Court in Little Rock, claim the defendants made automated, prerecorded calls to Arkansas consumers for the purpose of offering to reduce interest rates on credit cards. According to the suits, the companies never intended to provide permanent interest-rate reductions, nor did they have any more means to do so than Arkansas consumers themselves.

The defendants in the suits utilized illegal automated calls, known as "robocalls," in their marketing in attempts to maximize the number of Arkansas consumers they could contact with their false assurances of assistance, according to the complaints.

"Our office has received hundreds of complaints about these types of companies and their aggressive, illegal telephone marketing," McDaniel said. "Our Consumer Protection Division has worked diligently to track down the people responsible for these calls, who attempted to avoid detection by disguising their phone numbers when they contacted consumers. I'm grateful for the Consumer Protection Division's efforts on behalf of Arkansas consumers."

McDaniel filed lawsuits against: Associated Accounting Specialists, Inc., of Port St. Lucie, Fla., and its owner, William Page; Business First Solutions, Inc., of Orlando, Fla., and its owners, Jonathon Warren and Edward Warren; Financial Ladder Inc., of Saint Cloud, Fla., and its owners, Brenda Helfenstine and Antonia Helfenstine; Financial Management Partners, Inc., of Maitland, Fla., and its owners, Betsy Valorose and Eric Pugh; and Kenneth Sallies of Winter Springs, Fla., former owner of the now-defunct Customer Global Services LLC.

McDaniel alleged that the defendants in all five lawsuits violated the federal Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, the FTC Telemarketing Sales Rule, the Arkansas Consumer Telephone Privacy Act, and the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Four companies are also accused of violations of the Arkansas Advance Fee Loan Brokerage Act.

According to the complaints, two of the companies - Associated Accounting Specialists and Financial Ladder - assessed fees to consumers who accepted their offers, yet never provided the promised aid. Another two companies - Business First Solutions and Financial Management Partners - transferred existing consumer credit-card debt on to new credit cards that consumers had never requested. The new cards only temporarily had lower interest rates before the rate was increased to the same level or even higher than the old card.

All five companies are alleged to have repeatedly violated state and federal law by calling numbers listed on the "Do Not Call" registry.

McDaniel asked the court in each lawsuit to order the defendants to cease their illegal telemarketing activities and provide restitution to affected consumers. The Attorney General also seeks civil penalties and costs.

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