FTC mailing nearly $1M in scam refunds

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Trade Commission said Thursday that it's mailing refund checks totaling just under $1 million to 138,737 consumers across the country who were victimized by a group of telemarketers that falsely promised them free goods and services.

The $978,000 in refunds stems from settlements with the operators of telemarketing schemes that did business as Sure Touch Long Distance and DigiTouch Long Distance, the FTC said.

According to the FTC complaint, the companies billed consumers for goods and services they never agreed to buy after subjecting them to confusing sales pitches over the phone.

The telemarketers promised free things including gift cards, gas cards and resort vacations. But they often read their pitch so fast that consumers didn't understand they were being asked to pay for additional goods or services, the FTC said.

Consumers also were told that they would not be billed, since they did not provide their billing information. But the telemarketers actually did have their billing information and charged their credit cards or debited their bank accounts for the additional goods or services.

In addition, the consumers were not provided with the free goods or the services that they promised, the agency said.

The FTC said it filed suit against the two companies as part of a 2008 law enforcement sweep that included more than 180 telemarketing cases throughout the U.S. and Canada.