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MADISON - The Department of Justice has filed an enforcement action in Racine County Circuit Court against Prestige Business Solutions, Inc., a New Jersey corporation that operates a nationwide locksmith business under the name USA Locksmith. The complaint is the result of a joint investigation by the Department of Justice and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection into fraudulent locksmith advertising.
According to the complaint, Prestige has no business locations in Wisconsin, but contracts with locksmiths to handle service requests received at Prestige's out-of-state call center. The state alleges that Prestige engaged in deceptive advertising to create the false impression that a consumer was calling a local locksmith business. Prestige accomplished this in multiple ways:
1) by using numerous business names that reference a local community, such as Racine Locksmith, Racine 24 Hour Emergency Locksmith, Racine 24 7 Available Locksmith, Racine Available Emergency Locksmith, Racine Anytime Anywhere Emergency Locksmith, Racine Always Available Emergency Locksmith, and Racine 24 Hour Locksmith;
2) by listing phony addresses for each business name, which either belongs to other businesses or at which no buildings exist; and
3) by listing local phone numbers for most of the business names in its advertisements, which, when dialed, transfer the call (unbeknownst to the caller) to Prestige's out-of-state call center, which then dispatches a contract locksmith to perform the requested service.
"We will not tolerate such dishonesty in advertising, and my office will continue to work towards ensuring that Wisconsin consumers are not mislead about products and services being marketed to them," said Attorney General Van Hollen.
The complaint asks the court to impose forfeitures against the defendants for violations of Wisconsin's fraudulent advertising statute, and to order the defendants to halt their fraudulent advertising.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General John S. Greene and has been assigned to Racine County Circuit Court Judge Richard J. Kreul.