Crime - Sacto 911

She thought she blocked telemarketers, but the calls kept coming. Now she’s suing for millions

Susan Knapp registered her cellphone number with the federal do-not-call registry in March 2009, one of more than 226 million numbers registered with the government to stop unwanted telemarketing calls.

Unfortunately, she says, it didn’t work. Now, she’s suing in a federal complaint seeking class action status for damages that could exceed $5 million, court papers say.

In a complaint filed in federal court in Sacramento last week, the Fairfield woman says she began to receive calls in August from an automated dialing system offering home solar systems for sale by Sunrun Inc., a San Francisco-based company.

Knapp’s lawsuit, filed by Woodland Hills-based consumer attorney Todd Friedman, alleges that Knapp received numerous calls from the company over a 12-month period and seeks $1,500 for each call, as well as class-action status that could extend to thousands of consumers.

Friedman did not respond to a request for comment, but Sunrun said in an email response to The Bee that “we are reviewing the claim and intend to vigorously defend ourselves against it.”

Knapp’s lawsuit claims negligent and willful violations of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which in other cases has resulted in millions of dollars in penalties.

The lawsuit also refers to Sunrun as a Nevada company, a key point because calls made across state lines could violate federal do not call regulations – as opposed to intrastate calls that could be affected by state law.

The Federal Trade Commission said it could not confirm or deny whether an individual company is the subject of an investigation, but said it had no record of previous action against Sunrun Inc.

But the agency says it has taken aggressive actions to stop unwanted telemarketing calls and recovered more than $50 million in penalties, not including a $280 million court-ordered penalty against Dish Network last year.

The most recent FTC case involving a solar company came last November, when the FTC settled a complaint against two brothers in California alleging that they ran a telemarketing firm that made millions of robocalls pitching solar equipment sales.

Consumers received “an urgent call about your energy bill” that instructed them to press “1” to cut their power bills, the FTC said. Those who did were transferred to a telemarketer.

The corporate defendants and one of the brothers were banned from all telemarketing and required to pay $155,000, the FTC said.

Unsolicited telemarketing calls to cellphones is illegal, and consumers can register their phones on the Do-Not-Call registry by calling 888-382-1222 from the number they want to register. They also can register online at www.donotcall.gov.

California has by far the most phone numbers registered on the Do-Not-Call registry, with more than 25 million numbers as of 2016, the FTC says.

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