~ Did not give out clients’ numbers ~
PHILIPSBURG–United Telecommunications Services (UTS) and TelEm Group mobile provider TelCell both issued statements on Friday denying that they are involved in any way in the political campaign robo-calls.
Both providers also denied that they have given out their clients’ numbers for the campaigns.
TelCell said in its release that it is investigating use of its telecommunication network by a third party to send political messages to random TelCell customers. The company said its customers had begun receiving phone calls from the number 522-2859 on Friday January 26. When answering the call customers receive an automated voice system.
“TelCell wants to assure all valued customers that no numbers have been given out to third parties and that the company is therefore not responsible for these calls. Technicians believe an ‘app’ is being used that randomly generates numbers and makes calls,” the company said in the release.
The mystery number is being used as a mask to send out broadcast messages from these automated or robo-calls.
TelEm Group said that while telemarketing campaigns using mobile subscriber numbers have been used in the past and are not illegal, TelCell is attempting to resolve this matter based on the number of complaints received from customers who do not appreciate receiving unsolicited calls.
“TelCell is asking its customers to exercise patience and understanding as the company takes steps to see what can be done on their behalf,” the company said.
UTS said in its release that it had received a string of complaints from customers on Friday regarding unsolicited calls and messages received on their mobile phones. The calls and messages originated from campaigns for the upcoming parliamentary election.
UTS said it had been contacted by customers concerned about whether it had provided their information for the purposes of these campaign solicitations. The mobile operator said it had no involvement, as the calls are the result of automated systems employed by the campaigns and no cooperation from mobile providers is needed.
“These so-called robo-calls are made using automated number generators and number diallers to place calls and send messages. The candidates programme these ‘bots’ to automatically contact random mobile telephone numbers of St. Maarten to solicit support. Once a call is connected, an automated campaign recording is played,” UTS said in the release. “We would like to assure our customers that we did not assist in providing or selling their information to any political campaign,”
UTS Marketing and Communication Officer Ivy Lambert said in the release. “Our customers can rest assured that we continue to keep your subscriber information safe/private and that we will not provide this info to third parties for solicitation purposes. We have also informed the Bureau of Telecommunications and Post (BTP) of what is transpiring in the event they receive complaints as well.”