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VZ Wireless Sues Alleged Spammer

Verizon Wireless today said it is suing a Florida vacation outlet for allegedly sending nearly 100,000 unsolicited text messages to the carrier's customers.

The suit charges that Ormond Beach, Fla.-based Passport Holidays violated the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act by using auto-dialing equipment to send bursts of text messages to sequential phone numbers.

The short text messages informed customers that they had supposedly won a cruise to the Bahamas and asked them to call to claim their prize. Other unknown individuals, who allegedly helped send the spam, are also included in the suit.

The legal action, filed in federal court in Trenton, N.J., claims that the defendants tried to hide their identities and circumvent Verizon Wireless spam filters.

An employee who answered the phone at Passport Holidays said a request for comment would be referred to the firm's lawyer. Spokesmen for Verizon Wireless were not immediately available for further comment.

It's the latest effort by the nation's second-largest mobile carrier to crack down on spam text messages. Verizon Wireless recently obtained an injunction and seizure order against another Florida firm that attempted to illegally obtain customer data.

Over the past year, the Bedminster, N.J.-based, carrier has also pursued legal actions against alleged spammers in California, Rhode Island and Tennessee.

In August 2004, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved rules to prohibit marketers from sending unsolicited messages to wireless phones and other devices without a consumer's permission.

Customers of any wireless carrier who receive unsolicited messages can file a complaint with the FCC by e-mailing donotcall@fcc.gov or calling 1-888-CALL-FCC.