A Florida telemarketing operation has agreed to pay 227 Iowans a total of $12,824 to resolve allegations of consumer fraud. Bob Brammer, spokesperson for the Iowa Attorney General’s office, says “Galaxy Member Benefits” is also paying five-thousand-dollars to the state.
Galaxy was accused of calling Iowans and signing them up for so-called memberships. “We heard from consumers that didn’t even know that they signed up for anything,” Brammer said. “We allege it was just flat out deception.” Most Iowans said their first contact with Galaxy involved an offer of $100 of free gas or thousands of dollars in the form of a government grant.
Brammer says the telemarketers’ offers never panned out and consumers later noticed unauthorized charges from Galaxy to their credit card or bank accounts. Iowans also had a hard time reaching Galaxy to complain about and resolve the charges.
“They would run into numbers that were disconnected, they’d be treated rudely, they’d be put on hold forever or be told nothing could be done,” Brammer said. “This was just, we think, wrong and illegal treatment of people who had been deceived in the first place.” In some cases, Iowans discovered bank withdrawals or credit card charges of nearly $300. Restitution checks are being sent to victims this week. Brammer says the case serves as a reminder for Iowans to be wary of telemarketer’s claims and to check bank and credit card statements every month.
“It’s also another reminder that people can put themselves on the National Do Not Call List, if they haven’t already done that. That would block this kind of call,” Brammer said. People can add their phone information to the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call List by calling 888-382-1222 or by logging on to the Do not call website .