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POSTED: Monday, May 18, 2009

Judge blocks 'robo-calls' selling car warranties

CHICAGO » A federal judge has issued two temporary restraining orders designed to stop what officials describe as a wave of deceptive “;robo-calls”; warning people their auto warranties are expiring and offering to sell them new service plans.

“;The FTC has disconnected the people responsible for so many of these annoying calls,”; Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz said.

“;We expect to see a dramatic decrease in the number of deceptive auto warranty calls, but we are still on high alert,”; Leibowitz said in a statement posted on the agency's Web site.

The FTC filed suit against two companies and their executives on Thursday, asking a federal court in Chicago to halt a wave of as many as 1 billion automated, random, prerecorded calls and freeze the assets of the companies.

Officials say the calls have targeted consumers regardless of whether they have warranties or even own cars and ignore the Do Not Call registry. They say telemarketers have misrepresented service agreements consumers have to buy for warranties that come with the price of the car.

U.S. District Judge John F. Grady issued the temporary restraining order against Transcontinental Warranty Inc. on Thursday and Voice Touch Inc. on Friday.

 

Maui business center returns to regular hours

The state's Business Action Center of Maui has reopened to regular business hours from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday after operating on Wednesdays for several months.

“;The small business community in Maui has been incredibly patient with our reduced hours,”; said Tung Chan, commissioner of the Business Registration Division of the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, in a statement. “;All the paperwork involved with starting and running a business can be daunting, but beginning Monday, we are back full time to assist our residents.”;

The Business Action Center offers assistance to businesses just getting started and provides information on permits and licenses for state, county and federal government agencies. It also provides information about counseling and workshops offered by other business resource programs and other information useful to new entrepreneurs.

 

Macy's considers outlet business, CEO says

Macy's Inc., the second-biggest U.S. department-store chain, is looking at entering the outlet business to help boost sales, Chief Executive Officer Terry Lundgren said.

Such outlets could sell leftover inventory from Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores, and perhaps merchandise developed specifically for them, Lundgren said. He didn't specify a time frame.

Saks Inc. and Nordstrom Inc. are among retailers that operate outlets, which help dispose of unsold goods and keep the main stores free of clutter. They also capture shoppers who only shop at outlets, Lundgren said.

 

Coming Up

» Today: National Association of Home Builders releases housing market index for May. Lowe's Cos. reports first-quarter financial results.

» Tomorrow: Commerce Department releases housing starts for April. Hewlett-Packard Co. reports second-quarter financial results. Home Depot Inc. reports first-quarter financial results.

» Wednesday: Federal Reserve releases minutes from April meeting. Target Corp. reports first-quarter financial results.