• Henry Seaton

FTC charges registration firms with deceptive practices

A federal judge granted the Federal Trade Commission’s request for a preliminary injunction against two people and their companies -- including DOTAuthority.com and DOTFilings.com -- for allegedly tricking small commercial trucking businesses into paying them for federal and state motor carrier registrations by impersonating government transportation agencies.

According to FTC’s complaint, the defendants have taken in more than $19 million from thousands of small businesses by using misleading robocalls, e-mails and text messages that create and reinforce the false impression that they are, or are affiliated with, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) system, or another government agency. The complaint charges that the defendants used official-sounding names, official-looking websites, warnings of $1,000 in civil penalties or fines for non-compliance, and threats of imminent law enforcement to trick consumers into using their registration services instead of using official government website services.

FTC says the defendants did not tell consumers that their costs included service fees that ranged from $25 to $550 or more. Many consumers who paid the defendants' UCR fees were automatically enrolled, without their knowledge or consent, in “SafeRenew,” the defendants’ annual renewal program for UCR fees, FTC said.

In addition to DOTAuthority.com and DOTFilings.com, defendants include James P. Lamb, Uliana Bogash, Excelsior Enterprises International Inc. and JPL Enterprises International Inc. For more information on the case, click here.

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