Attorney General’s Office Files Suit over Credit Card Scam;
Public Urged to Check Bills for DirectONE charges
(Pierre) – The South Dakota Attorney General’s Office is suing a California company for deceptive trade practices.
The lawsuit is against DirectONE, LLC and DirectONE, Inc. for allegedly running a long distance telephone scam. The civil suit was filed today in state court in Pierre.
“The scam involves billing people’s credit cards for a long distance plan they say they never ordered,” said South Dakota Attorney General Mark Barnett. “In one case, the person who supposedly authorized the order had been deceased for more than two years.”
Public Utilities Commissioner Bob Sahr said, "The Public Utilities Commission received 22 recorded consumer contacts about DirectONE in 2001-2002 and the overwhelming majority of the complaints involved unauthorized billing of credit cards."
In some cases the consumer reports that they used a credit card to order a product over the telephone or the internet. After making their initial purchase, customers were offered the chance to buy a DirectONE long distance telephone plan. Some consumers report that they refused the offer but were charged anyway.
The Attorney General’s Office is also asking for an injunction to prohibit DirectONE from obtaining information about South Dakotans until the company changes its billing practices, and to prohibit DirectONE from billing consumers without written authorization from the consumer.
Several other states are also investigating DirectONE’s trade practices.
Barnett and Sahr are urging consumers to check their credit card bills carefully. If there are unauthorized charges, contact the South Dakota Division of Consumer Protection or the Public Utilities Commission. The Office of Consumer Protection can be reached 1-800-300-1986 and the PUC at 1-800-332-1782.
-30-NOTE TO BROADCASTERS: Sahr is pronounced "sar".