California Federal Judge Grants Preliminary Approval for Global Tel*Link (GTL) to Pay $8.8 Million Dollars for Violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act
Report #3in a Series – Competitor Has History of Wrongdoings
April 5, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DALLAS, TX April 5, 2017– Securus Technologies, a leading provider of civil and criminal justice technology solutions for public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring, announced a reaffirmation of its Integrity Pledge (Customer Integrity Pledge) established in 2012 and a release of Report #3 in a series of reports, facts, findings, and articles that will highlight significant wrongdoings and integrity breaches by inmate communications provider Global Tel*Link (aka “GTL”).
“Every Securus Associate must sign our integrity pledge upon their hire and then reaffirm their commitment to it every year,” said Richard A. (“Rick”) Smith, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Securus Technologies. “I love our industry – serving law enforcement, corrections, inmates, friends/family members, and all of society – and only hire Associates with the highest integrity and ethics. It offends me that some carriers have less than the highest integrity in their business dealings and even engage in unlawful practices such as deliberately programming clocks that time the duration of calls and adding 15 to 36 seconds to calls, charging rates over those permitted, using add-on programs to artificially inflate charges to its customers, and deliberately double billing calls. At Securus we always serve all of our customers with their best interests at heart – it’s in our DNA.”
Securus recently received an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and a formal accreditation. “I’m proud that the BBB determined that we met their standards of honesty, integrity, transparency and trust and gave us their highest rating,” said Smith. “It’s a testament to our Associates and the only way we will conduct business. Our customers deserve it, and we deliver it each and every day.”
Report #3 – Federal Judge Grants Preliminary Approval for Global Tel*Link to Pay $8.8 Million into a Class Action Settlement Fund
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) was passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by President George H. W. Bush as public law. The law restricts telephone solicitations (telemarketing) and the use of automated telephone equipment (dialers).
“GTL was sued in 2014 for TCPA violations by way of class action plaintiffs. They allegedly used robo-calling to inmates’ friends/family members in a way that would violate federal law,” said Smith. “The United States District Court in California approved and recommended approval of a settlement between GTL and the plaintiffs. GTL also agreed to system/process changes so as not to violate the TCPA in the future. To my knowledge, this the largest class action settlement amountby far ever paidin our sector – not surprising to me that GTL holds that distinction.”
Report #1 – Louisiana Public Service Commission
Report #1 involves a formal 17 page Order No. U-20784-B by the Louisiana Public Service Commission (PSC) regarding GTL actions when they served the Louisiana Department of Corrections and provided outbound telecom services to thousands of inmates. The Louisiana PSC investigated GTL actions and found the following:
- Global Tel Link programmed the clocks in their telephones at correctional institutions to add either 15 or 36 seconds to the duration of each call and “Global’s practice of advancing the clocks [was] unauthorized…and unlawful”;
- Global Tel Link “programmed its telephones to rate calls on the basis of higher rates than those permitted either under its tariffs or the [PSC] rate caps” and “this practice was wholly unauthorized”;
- Global Tel Link “artificially inflate[d] charges to its customers” by “the addition of various amounts of money to its calls after the calls were rated” and “No excuse could possibly exist for such action.” “The use of add-on programs is perhaps the most insidious and problematic of all of Global’s activities.”
- Global Tel Link “engaged in the practice of billing a single call more than once” and “No authorization exists for such double billing”.
- “In many instances, these unlawful practices were engaged in deliberately and with no other intent than to unlawfully overcharge customers”.
- “We find that as a result of the four practices described above,…Louisiana taxpayers were overcharged by Global in the amount of $1,243,000”.
Report #2 – Attorney General of the State of Mississippi Sues GTL
Report #2 involves a 17 page lawsuit filed by the Attorney General of the State of Mississippi on February 8, 2017 against GTL regarding the payment of bribes and other illegal actions with the then head of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (DOC).
The lawsuit indicates the following quotes/comments:
- Defendant GTL paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in so called “consulting fees” to Sam Waggoner and these were used to pay bribes and kickbacks;
- DOC Commissioner Epps awarded, directed and/or extended public contracts, paid for by the state, to Defendant GTL;
- Mississippi seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, civil penalties, disgorgement of all ill-gotten funds as a result of Defendant’s conspiratorial scheme;
- DOC Commissioner Epps, Sam Waggoner, and GTL knowingly and intentionally conspired to devise schemes using overt acts such as bribery, kickbacks, unfair and deceptive trade practices, misrepresentations, fraud, concealment, money laundering, and fraudulent use of sole source contracts and other wrongful conduct, all with the intended purpose and effect of defrauding the state of at least $6,000,000;
- Waggoner paid a portion of his fees as bribes and kickbacks to Epps in exchange for the Mississippi DOC awarding approximately $6,000,000 in public contracts to GTL.
“I would note that the claims against GTL by the Attorney General of the State of Mississippi are only causes of actions – it does not represent a judgment or finding against GTL and GTL deserves their day in court,” said Smith. “But these causes of actions are serious and ultimately could conclude with a settlement or a judgment against GTL – either outcome could possibly be business ending events for GTL as it would be difficult to retain their existing contracts or win any new contracts – now, and in the future.”
“Our industry is very special – serving law enforcement, corrections, inmates, friends/family members, saving lives, solving and preventing crimes, and serving all of society,” said Smith. “It offends me and our entire industry when a carrier stoops well below the integrity bar that most other carriers have – but GTL may not have. Our business’mission is a lot more than making money. It is to serve all of our customers with their best interests at heart – in the right way and to obey the rules and laws of this land. And we follow the rules of the game at Securus,” concluded Smith.
To that end, Securus will continue to provide historical additional wrongdoings/potential wrongdoings by GTL in a series of additional Press Releases over the next several months.
ABOUT SECURUS TECHNOLOGIES
Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and serving more than 3,450 public safety, law enforcement and corrections agencies and over 1,200,000 inmates across North America, Securus Technologies is committed to serve and connect by providing emergency response, incident management, public information, investigation, biometric analysis, communication, information management, inmate self-service, and monitoring products and services in order to make our world a safer place to live. Securus Technologies focuses on connecting what matters®. To learn more about our full suite of civil and criminal justice technology solutions, please visit SecurusTechnologies.com.
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Source: Securus Technologies, Inc.