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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

December 10, 2012 at 2:30 PM

AG McKenna takes parting shot at text spammers

Outgoing state Attorney General Rob McKenna is taking action against a Florida company, alleging that its text spams offering payday loans violate state and federal consumer-protection laws.

McKenna’s office is filing suit against Dinav Holdings, a father-and-son operation in Orlando, Fla., that has sent unsolicited text messages with loan offers.

“Consumers pay for text messaging in order to stay in touch with family, friends and business contacts — not to receive spam that’s as illegal as it is annoying,” McKenna said in a release. “Today’s lawsuit is a reminder to spammers that there are consequences for breaking the law.”

Federal law makes it illegal to make calls with an automated system, like one allegedly used by Dinav Holding in an incident cited in the lawsuit, without first obtaining permission of the recipient. State law also prohibits commercial text messages.

Clicking on the text messages sent from Dinav could prompt people to provide personal information and click a button labeled “Send Me Cash!,” according to McKenna’s release. That brought them to a payday loan provider that’s not licensed to make such loans in Washington state.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court of Western Washington, seeks penalties of up to $500 per violation of federal and state consumer protection acts plus up to $2,000 per violation in civil penalties.

McKenna’s office is aware of at least 50,000 calls made in May over a two-day period so the potential fines could be more than $125 million.

Dinav Holdings did not immediately return a call for comment.

Here are screenshots provided by McKenna’s office:

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