Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced a lawsuit against Darren C. Sizemore for sending unsolicited text messages to hundreds of thousands of consumers without their permission.
According to the lawsuit, Sizemore of Wellington, Ohio, used an automatic telephone dialing system (or auto-dialer) to send unsolicited text messages to consumers nationwide. The messages instructed recipients to visit certain websites to claim free prizes or gifts, such as iPads or iPhones, and Sizemore received compensation from third parties for driving traffic to their websites.
To receive the gifts, consumers were asked to provide personal information or to sign up for trial offers that required upfront payments or enrollment in ongoing membership programs. These requirements to claim the gifts were not disclosed in the initial text message as required by state law.
At times, text messages were sent repeatedly to the same cell phone number, and many consumers who received the messages had registered their numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit charges Sizemore with violations of the Consumer Sales Practices Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. In the lawsuit, the Attorney General seeks damages, an injunction to stop further violations, and civil penalties.
Attorney General DeWine reminds consumers:
Companies must obtain your express written consent before using an auto-dialer to send text messages that contain advertisements. The ban applies even if you have not registered your mobile number on the National Do Not Call Registry. The prohibition on unsolicited text messages also applies to informational or non-sales calls, such as survey-takers, charities, and debt collectors if the companies are using auto dialers to deliver the text messages.
Never respond to unsolicited text messages, even if the message includes the name of a well-known organization or store.
If you’re interested in the content of a text message, rather than clicking on links displayed in the message, visit the organization’s or store’s website directly.
You can report spam text messages to your cellular phone carrier by forwarding the text message to 7726.
You can register your cell phone number and your landline with the National Do Not Call Registry.
Consumers who believe they have been treated unfairly should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov