HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Thursday that his office filed a lawsuit against New York-based Fluent Inc.—a company that connects advertisers to potential new customers through the consumers’ personal data—for their and their subsidiaries' role in allegedly causing hundreds of thousands of unwanted robocalls to be placed to Pennsylvania consumers.
Fluent and its subsidiaries Fluent LLC, CAC, American Prize Center LLC, Deliver Technology LLC, Rewardzone USA LLC and Samples & Savings USA LLC, collected personal information, including telephone numbers, and that information was then sold to telemarketing companies, Shapiro's office said in a press release.
This included the personal information of thousands of consumers on Pennsylvania’s Do Not Call List, according to Shapiro.
“If a Pennsylvania resident registers their phone number on the "Do-Not-Call’ List, it’s illegal for telemarketers to call them,” Shapiro said. “Every company is obligated to comply with state and federal telemarketing laws, and Fluent failed to comply. These invasive robocalls are a growing problem—Fluent’s phony actions cannot be used to obtain consumer’s consent to receive unwanted calls.”
Consumers’ information was obtained by Fluent through the consumers’ efforts to register to receive promotional offerings, including gift cards to popular retailers such as Amazon and Walmart, Shapiro said.
These promotional opportunities consistently failed to include clear and obvious disclosures that warn consumers that if they provide their contact information, they are consenting to receive telemarketing calls from hundreds of potential sellers, according to Shapiro.
These sellers' products and services are oftentimes not related to the promotional offerings whatsoever, he added.
The lawsuit found that from 2018 to 2021, more than 4.2 million Pennsylvania consumers registered their information on one of Fluent’s websites. The lawsuit alleges that Fluent and its subsidiaries assisted and facilitated millions of violations of federal and state telemarketing laws by:
- Trafficking telemarketing calls to consumers who are on the Federal Do Not Call Registry
- Delivering telemarketing calls to consumers on the Federal Do Not Call Registry, where the consumers did not give their valid consent to be contacted
- Delivering telemarketing calls to consumers with prerecorded messages—also known as robocalls—without proper consumer consent
- Engaging in deceptive and misleading business practices, in connection with their lead-generating practices
This is not the first time Fluent has caught the attention of government regulators.
In May 2021, Fluent entered into a settlement with the New York Attorney General’s Office, relating to allegations that Fluent supplied millions of fake public comments in opposition to net neutrality rules, according to Shapiro.
Fluent was retained by the broadband industry to generate leads to create a false appearance of widespread grassroots opposition to net neutrality rules. In connection with the settlement, Fluent Inc. paid a $3.7 million civil penalty and agreed to comprehensive reforms for its political advocacy work.
This lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania by Senior Deputy Attorney General Amy L. Schulman of the Pittsburgh Regional Office.
If you are on the Pennsylvania “Do Not Call” List and you receive unwanted and unsolicited calls from telemarketers, you should file a complaint online or contact the Office of Attorney General Bureau of Consumer Protection at 800-441-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.