The Arizona Attorney General's Office said Tuesday has settled a consumer fraud investigation into two companies in the state that operated a telemarketing scheme.
Attorney General Tom Horne filed a consent judgment in Maricopa County Superior Court that orders National Bankcard Monitor, LLC and Financial Interest Strategies, LLC, and their owner, Gino Niccoli, to pay $250,939.01 in restitution and civil fines.
Horne said the companies "took money from thousands of consumers nationwide, from April 2010 and November 2012, without complying with Arizona's telemarketing statutes."
The companies failed to meet Arizona's requirements that telemarketers register with the Arizona secretary of state, obtain a $100,000 bond and provide consumers with important disclosures and notice of their cancellation rights.
Horne said consumers who answered sales calls were told the company could assist them in negotiating lower credit card interest rates and/or obtaining low interest rate credit cards to transfer their balances.
If they agreed to pay $1,499 for the service, consumers were guaranteed a savings of $2,000 to $5,000 in interest and finance charges, Horne said.
The guaranteed savings did not result from an interest rate reduction or obtaining low rate credit cards, Horne said. Instead, it came from a computer generated payment plan that simply told consumers they could save money over time by making consistent monthly payments to their highest interest rate debts, Horne added.
Horne said the companies were found to have violated the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act and permanently barred from owning or operating a telemarketing business.
Customers of National Bankcard Monitor and/or Federal Interest Strategies, LLC seeking restitution should file their consumer complaint with the Office of the Attorney General by Oct. 15.
Consumers can file complaints online at https://www.azag.gov/complaints/consumer or request a mailed complaint form by calling 602- 542-5763 in Phoenix, 520-628-6504 in Tucson or 800-352-8431 toll-free outside of metro Phoenix.
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